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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 2 hours 29 min ago

Judge Cuno Tarfusser Wants to Become the Next EPO President

Tuesday 10th of October 2017 03:40:01 PM

Summary: Latest news from the EPO Administrative Council (AC) meeting, including details about the person who competes with Campinos over Battistelli’s job

THE EPO is about to announce its next President, but as we said earlier on in the afternoon, nothing is final (yet).

We knew that at least one other person had put in an eligible job application. We just didn’t know who that was. Well, Board of Appeal judges would probably be happy to know that it’s a judge, not some politician with barely any experience in the area of patents (that’s what Battistelli was).

“But with Battistelli pulling strings, as always, nepotism might trump sanity.”“According to reports,” a source told us, “the Administrative Council will have a long confidential session this afternoon (Tuesday 10 October). The main topic will be the selection of the new President of the EPO. It is reported that there are two candidates. The one favored by Battistelli is Mr. Campinos. According to inside information, the other candidate is Cuno Jakob Tarfusser whose candidacy has been supported by the Italian delegation.

“Tarfusser is an Italian judge of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and prior to his appointment to the ICC, he had an extensive legal career in Italy as a prosecutor.

“He comes from the South Tyrol and undertook his legal studies at the University of Innsbruck in Austria and at the University of Padua in Italy.”

Since one of the main issues at the EPO is lawlessness it certainly sounds like Tarfusser would be the more suitable candidate. But with Battistelli pulling strings, as always, nepotism might trump sanity.

Early Reports Suggest That Battistelli’s Policies Will Remain at the EPO (in the Form of Campinos)

Tuesday 10th of October 2017 02:15:19 PM

It seems like the bunch below will indeed govern the Board of Appeal, Office etc.

Summary: Battistelli’s ‘Club Med’ vision is reportedly becoming a reality

THERE’S no major surprise here. We saw that coming and expected that based on rumours from the inside.

Well, published earlier today (in German) by Mathieu Klos and Christina Schulze, who are familiar with EPO affairs (and scandals), is an article about today’s meeting.

“The headline suggests he would be chosen to become the EPO President, but there’s still no official confirmation of it.”Battistelli’s successor, according to them, is EUIPO’s chief Campinos. The headline suggests he would be chosen to become the EPO President, but there’s still no official confirmation of it.

As one anonymous insider put it: “If confirmed, this would be disastrous news for the staff, the Board of Appeal and ultimately the whole patent community.”

For background to this, see the following series:

Got any tips/information? Maybe photos from this afternoon's EPO protest? Please let us know; send us information anonymously.

US Congress Will Likely Stop Native American Tribes From Helping Patent Trolls by Misusing Sovereign Immunity

Tuesday 10th of October 2017 01:57:52 PM

Summary: The US political system, in spite of its many flaws, steps in to defend the Patent Trial and Appeals Board (PTAB) from the “scam” which is passage of patents to tribes that have nothing to do with these patents (for the sake of immunity/protection from scrutiny)

IT HAS been just over a month since sites — including ours [1, 2, 3] — bemoaned this. Well, that trick or loophole didn’t last long, did it?

A patent trolls expert, Mr. Mullin, who was following this whole affair pretty closely since the very start (although Patently-O had beaten him to it), says that Senator McCaskill called it “[o]ne of the most brazen and absurd loopholes I’ve ever seen.”

Weeks after many of us protested Native Americans’ help to patent trolls it certainly looks like the loophole will be closed. To quote:

Allergan’s move to stop its patents from being reviewed by handing them off to a Native American tribe is winning support from few people outside the drug company. Now one lawmaker is seeking to ban it.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) has introduced a bill (PDF) that would head off Allergan’s strategy without waiting to see whether the judges at the Patent Trial and Appeals Board will even approve it.

Mullin’s article does give the impression that there’s momentum and the “scam” (as some sites called it) is on borrowed time.

In the meantime, CCIA writes about “A Bridge To Sovereign Patent Funds”. Yesterday it explained how PTAB helps stop patent trolls/aggression and how the aggressors retreat to the above loophole not just in the US but also in Japan:

Patent trolls are a familiar concept at this point, but a “sovereign patent fund” (SPF) might not be. This isn’t the kind of sovereign I wrote about recently in regard to sovereign immunity. In essence, an SPF is simply a patent assertion entity (PAE) with backing from a national government.

While government-funded companies that create patent portfolios have been around for quite some time, such as South Korea’s ETRI, they typically functioned as operating companies and research institutions first, obtaining patents from their own research, and only secondarily as patent litigators. It’s only over the past few years that the first generation of sovereign patent funds has arisen, acquiring patents from external sources. These SPFs are formed for various reasons, but they all generally have a protectionist bent, focused on protecting local industry and keeping IP in local hands. IP Bridge, a Japanese SPF, openly states that one goal is to “aggregate [patents] and use them, for example, to support domestic1 SMEs [small and medium enterprises].”

So what can you do if a company backed by the resources of an entire foreign government targets you with a patent infringement lawsuit?

You can file a petition for inter partes review.

We wrote about IP Bridge many times before. Their main proponents are sites which favour patent trolls. We last wrote about it less than a week ago and many times earlier this year.

Jesper Kongstad Was Not Honest About Early Retirement, He is Joining the Private Sector

Tuesday 10th of October 2017 12:59:48 PM

‘Pulling a José Manuel Barroso/Goldman Sachs’? (context)

Summary: The former Director of the Danish Patent and Trademark Office (DKPTO) and Chairman of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation (EPO) will be working for corporations now (without even a ‘cool-off’ period)

Jesper Kongstad’s last day at the EPO was 11 days ago. We heard he had been sacked/pushed out by his government (which previously offered him protection). Even the DKPTO gave him just months to go, presumably because he wanted to retire (so he said).

“Kongstad has high-level access/connections/nepotism in institutions such as the EPO and DKPTO.”Well, guess what… less than a week ago, as readers point out to us, a sort of self-promotional press release titled “Jesper Kongstad joins Zacco” turned up in the company’s site.

“It is with great pleasure we can announce that former Director of the Danish Patent and Trademark Office (DKPTO) and Chairman of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organization (EPO), Jesper Kongstad has joined Zacco as Industrial Advisor and Investor,” said the press release. “Jesper will have three primary focus areas in Zacco – advising clients on strategic level, developing and building the business of Zacco, and as vice chairman of the Board of Directors of Zacco. Jesper has extensive experience and shown impressive results within the IP business and he will bring important and positive competences, knowledge and insights to Zacco. We are very excited to bring this into play in our continuous development ensuring that we can continue to deliver IP counselling that makes a difference to our clients.”

Kongstad has high-level access/connections/nepotism in institutions such as the EPO and DKPTO. As is common with former officials, sometimes the real product they offer is “ties” (e.g. to the government). We shall see what happens next.

Battistelli’s Club Med at the EPO – Part VIII: Summary and Photos of Battistelli’s Club Med

Tuesday 10th of October 2017 08:41:50 AM

Summary: A roundup of our latest series of posts regarding Battistelli, Patricia Garcia Escudero, and the rest of that “Iberian connection”

THE EPO‘s Administrative Council may soon approve continuity of Battistelli’s “Club Med”, with “Team Battistelli” still in charge. The important thing is, however, that we remain aware of the connections or the personal bonds, which predate people’s time at the EPO, cementing or reinforcing a culture of nepotism (employment based on connections rather than qualifications).

Here are the previous parts of this series:

Some photos of Battistelli’s “Club Med” are shown below. One of the photos shows Battistelli and Campinos as guest speakers at an event organised by the Spanish private university UIMP in 2014. The person in the middle is the head of the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office, Patricia Garcia Escudero. There are also some photos of the ceremony where Battistelli was conferred with an honorary doctorate by the UIMP.

UIMP event in 2014:

UIMP’s ‘Battistelli group’:

UIMP crowns Battistelli:

Spain’s Garcia-Escudero:

Portugal’s Trindade:

The UIMP was also explored in the following past articles:

We welcome any information people may have about this week’s meeting of the Administrative Council. They don’t exactly like transparency; they just put out some polished “minutes” at the end, usually pre-approved (filtered) by Team Battistelli.

EPO Protest at 12:30 in Munich and Why EPO Staff Should Attend

Monday 9th of October 2017 11:54:01 PM

Summary: SUEPO, the staff union of the EPO, has just released a call for protest, scheduled to coincide with the Administrative Council’s meeting

TOMORROW there will be another EPO protest. To quote SUEPO:

Dear colleagues,

We invite you to a demonstration during the next Administrative Council meeting which will take place tomorrow Tuesday 10 October 2017, 12:30 at the Isar building to:

show your discontent with the abusive management style of the present administration

demonstrate against the irrational reforms and the new decision against staff to abolish national holiday, ‘purely for production gains’.

Your SUEPO Committee Munich

Tomorrow we’ll also publish the final part of a series, previous parts of which are as follows:

SUEPO’s announcement appeared in the RSS feed but not in the main HTML version of the site (SUEPO central). Here is the document explaining reasons to attend the protest [PDF]:

Ortssektion München . Local Section Munich . Section locale de Munich

09.10.2017

su17013mp – 0.2.1/0.2.2/0.3.2

DEMONSTRATION

TUESDAY 10 OCTOBER 2017

12.30h in front of the Isar building

There are at least 14 reasons why you should participate to the demo:

Unfair and illegal immediate dismissal of three staff representatives (Els Hardon, Ion Brumme and Laurent Prunier).

Unfair and illegal downgrading of one staff representative (Malika Weaver).

Unlawful composition of the internal appeals committee in 2014-2016 (= no timely justice for EPO staff).

Unlawful composition of the disciplinary committee (= no timely justice for EPO staff).

Lack of bona fide consultation of the staff representation for all past, present and future reforms.

Forced new career system for examiners (1700 ILOAT appellants)

Cronyism (Inner circle of Mr. Battistelli)

Arbitrary team rewards, steps, double steps and boni (but not for all)

Ever-increasing production targets (resulting in a rat race amongst examiners and a continuous increasing production pressure)

Unnecessary reform of DG1 and DG2 (with 3 COO’s directly under Mr. Battistelli, mega directorates and team managers)

Banning of the Union SUEPO of the EPO premises (but SUEPO represents 50% of EPO staff)

Change of the strike regulations (making it de facto impossible for SUEPO or any other union to organize a strike)

Continuous reforms of the staff representation system (leading to de facto no existing/workable staff representation anymore)

Not respecting German law, the EPC, the EPO Codex and the code of conduct for the EPO

Your SUEPO Committee Munich

And here’s more [PDF] background regarding the protest:

Ortssektion München . Local Section Munich . Section locale de Munich

04.10.2017

su17012mp – 0.2.1 – 0.2.2 – 0.3.2
DEMONSTRATION
Tuesday 10 Oktober 2017
(12:30 Isar building)

“We act with professionalism and a sense of social responsibility in observing the applicable laws, and respecting customs and traditions of the countries in which we work contributing responsibility to the welfare of society.”
(Code of conduct for the EPO)
,

Dear colleagues,

The above text is from the so called ‘Code of conduct for the EPO’ published on the intranet by Mrs. Bergot. It is a vein attempt to persuade the readers that this administration is actually respecting the law, customs and traditions of the country in which we work. As we all know this is however, in stark contrast to what this administration is actually doing.

It acts clearly in breach of: the EPO Codex, the German law, the International law.

It never consults: the EPO staff representation, the Unions (recognised or not).

Decides always: against the staff and their rights (DG1-DG2 reform)

The EPO administration shows its appreciation for the enormous production rise in the last
years (40% and 25%) by obliging the EPO staff to work also during National holidays.

“Adding a further day to the list of public holidays for the place of employment already
enjoying the most favourable situation was therefore not deemed necessary.”
(HR matters September 2017)

VP4 put it even more bluntly during the last meeting with the Munich Staff Representation:
‘The national holiday has been abolished purely for production gains

We invite you to a demonstration during the next Administrative Council meeting on Tuesday, 10.10.2017, to show your discontent with the abusive management style of the present administration, to demonstrate against the irrational reforms and the new decision against staff to abolish their well-deserved national holiday, ‘purely for production gains’.

Your SUEPO Munich Committee

VP4, who is mentioned above, is a known thug in his home country. We’ll get back to legal cases against him some time in the near future.

The EPO is run by a cabal of very bad people. Protests aren’t just justified; they’re almost moral imperative.

Links 9/10/2017: SDDM v0.16.0, New Linux RC4, fwupd 1.0.0

Monday 9th of October 2017 11:37:37 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • City of Rome is getting ready for open source

      The city of Rome (Italy) is taking well-orchestrated steps to increase its use of free and open source software, aiming to reduce lock-in to IT vendors. A key change is an overhaul of the way IT solutions and support services are contracted; in all future contracts, Rome will require IT service providers to help the city switch to alternatives to proprietary software.

      This means change is coming soon. Many of the current IT contracts will need to be renewed next year, and by 2020 all current contracts will have been renewed, says Cecilia Colasanti, who works for Rome’s city councillor for Digital Innovation.

      [...]

      In 2018, Rome will run a pilot to test the use of workstations running Linux. Some of the IT support staff already have much experience with Linux servers and workstations, which should help resolve possible issues with network drives, shared folders and peripherals such as printers.

      Rome’s IT department is supporting the city council’s wish to get rid of IT vendor lock-in, says Ms Colasanti, “We are working together closely, for without their support, change won’t happen.”

      Commencement of the switch to open source was announced by the city in early September. “Currently, about one-third of our IT spending is distributed among just six IT vendors, some of which have been operating within the administration for more than three decades”, the announcement quotes Councillor Flavia Marzano as saying. “Our choice to implement free software intends to end the oligarchy in this industry.”

      Rome’s city council decided to switch to open source in October 2016.

  • Server
    • Reasons Kubernetes is cool

      When I first learned about Kubernetes (a year and a half ago?) I really didn’t understand why I should care about it.

      I’ve been working full time with Kubernetes for 3 months or so and now have some thoughts about why I think it’s useful. (I’m still very far from being a Kubernetes expert!) Hopefully this will help a little in your journey to understand what even is going on with Kubernetes!

      I will try to explain some reason I think Kubenetes is interesting without using the words “cloud native”, “orchestration”, “container”, or any Kubernetes-specific terminology :). I’m going to explain this mostly from the perspective of a kubernetes operator / infrastructure engineer, since my job right now is to set up Kubernetes and make it work well.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
  • Kernel Space
    • 10 layers of Linux container security

      Containers provide an easy way to package applications and deliver them seamlessly from development to test to production. This helps ensure consistency across a variety of environments, including physical servers, virtual machines (VMs), or private or public clouds. These benefits are leading organizations to rapidly adopt containers in order to easily develop and manage the applications that add business value.

    • Linux 4.14-rc4

      Another week, another -rc.

      This release does seem to continue to be more active in the rc’s than
      usual, but it actually feels like it’s calming down. So rc4 is larger
      than an rc4 release usually is (about 400 non-merge commits, when
      usually at this stage we should be at ~300), but at the same time it
      feels fairly normal. There was the watchdog merge that I already
      mentioned in the rc3 release, but other than that it looks much more
      like a normal rc than rc3 did, for example.

      In particular, ignoring that core watchdog thing, it’s the usual
      “mostly drivers and arch updates”. This time most of the arch updates
      (by far) are arm, and the driver5s are dominated by networking, but
      there’s other stuff in there too (USB, MMC, HID..). And then the usual
      random stuff elsewhere.

    • Linux 4.14-rc4 Arrives With This LTS Cycle Still Being Very Busy
    • What the data says about how Linux kernel developers collaborate

      When I worked in the Open Source Technology Center at Intel, we had quite a few kernel developers on the team, and I was always interested in how they worked so closely with people from a wide variety of companies, including our competitors.

      One of the interesting things about the Linux kernel is that the vast majority of people who contribute to it are employed by companies to do this work; however, most of the academic research on open source software assumes that participants are volunteers, contributing because of some personal need or altruistic motivation. Although this is true for some projects, this assumption just isn’t valid for projects like the Linux kernel. To learn more, I interviewed 16 kernel developers to talk about how people work together in the kernel.

    • AMD Packs In More AMDGPU Features For Linux 4.15

      The Linux 4.15 kernel is looking to be a very exciting update for AMDGPU DRM driver users.

      AMDGPU for Linux 4.15 is already very exciting as it should finally have the DC display code and enabled by default for RX Vega users. On top of that there’s also been other AMDGPU Direct Rendering Manager work including an increased fragment size and a variety of other changes.

    • 2018 will be the year of the RISC V Linux processors

      Linux fanboys tend to announce a lot of “year of” events. There is the year of the desktop which appears to be every year and still never happens and now there is the year of RISC V Linux processor.

    • Linux Gets Its First Multi-Core, RISC-V Based Open Source Processor

      Last year, Silicon Valley Startup SiFive released the first open source SoC (system on a chip), which was named Freeform Everywhere 310. Now, going one step ahead from the embedded systems, the company has released U54-MC Coreplex IP, which is the world’s first RISC-V based 64-bit quad-core CPU that supports fully featured operating systems like Linux.

      Before telling you about the new U54-MC, let me introduce you to the basics of RISC-V CPUs. The traditional Complex Instruction Set Computing (CISC) and Reduced Instruction Set Computing (RISC) do justice to their names and focus on the difficulty level of instructions as well as optimizations.

    • Linux Kernel 4.14 LTS Expected to Arrive Early Next Month, RC4 Ready for Testing

      A day later than expected, the fourth RC (Release Candidate) build of the upcoming Linux 4.14 LTS kernel series has been announced earlier today by Linus Torvalds, who gives us an insight into the development cycle.

      According to Linus Torvalds, things are starting calming down for the development cycle of Linux kernel 4.14, which will be the next long-term support (LTS) release, and while today’s RC4 milestone is bigger than a Release Candidate should be at this stage, it’s still fairly normal, with the exception of a large watchdog merge.

      “In particular, ignoring that core watchdog thing, it’s the usual “mostly drivers and Arch updates”. This time most of the arch updates (by far) are ARM, and the drivers are dominated by networking, but there’s other stuff in there too (USB, MMC, HID..). And then the usual random stuff elsewhere,” said Linus Torvalds in the mailing list announcement.

    • Linux Foundation Adds 15 New Silver Members

      99Cloud: The largest OpenStack community in China and China’s largest professional OpenStack training institution.

      AIG Technologies: A developer and manufacturer of personal care, cosmetic, OTC (over-the-counter) and pharmaceutical topical drug products.

      Aqua Security: Security company focused on container-based applications from development to production.

      Dynamic Coin: An open sourced, fully decentralized, peer-to-peer (P2P) currency.

      Dynatrace: A digital performance management provider offering AI-powered, full stack, automated monitoring.

      Fiberhome Technologies Group: A leading equipment vendor and global solution provider the field of information technology and telecommunications.

      GameCredits: A universal currency and virtual wallet for 2.6 billion gamers worldwide.

      Gigaspaces: Provides a leading in-memory computing platform for fast data analytics and extreme transaction processing.

      Huizhou Desay SV Automotive: Research, development and manufacturing of in-vehicle infotainment systems, climate control, driver information display systems, automotive display modules/systems, body control modules and advanced driver assistance systems.

      iconectiv: Provides solutions for the interconnection of networks, devices, and applications.

      LogDNA: A cloud-based log management system that allows engineering and DevOps to aggregate all system and application logs into a single platform.

      NGINX: A web server that is also used as a reverse proxy, load balancer and HTTP cache.

      Openet: A company that provides software solutions and consulting services primarily to telecoms.

      The Patientory Foundation: Promotes and develops new technologies and applications, especially in the fields of new open and decentralized software architectures.

      Trend Micro: is a leader in hybrid cloud, endpoint, and network security solutions.

    • Graphics Stack
    • Benchmarks
      • Mining Ethereum With AMD Threadrippers Paired With Four RX Vega 64 GPUs

        If you do not have time to read the full article here the short version in one sentence: No, it is not practical to run Ethereum on AMD Vega 64 graphics cards on Linux because the ROCm OpenCL stack in the AMDGPU-PRO 17.30 is very slow in Ethereum so the whole system with four Vega64 cards make 16-23Mh/s and even a single old AMD-RX470 with the old Closed-source OpenCL AMDGPU-PRO stack run ~20+ Mh/s… This all could be the effect of the exponential function Ethereum-ICE-AGE Bomb…

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Qt 5.10 Beta Released

        I am pleased to announce that Qt 5.10 Beta 1 is now released. Convenient online binary installers are available for trying out features coming in Qt 5.10. We will follow similar Beta process as with Qt 5.9 and provide multiple Beta releases via the online installer.

      • Qt 5.10 Beta Released

        Qt 5.10 Alpha had arrived last month as two weeks late while The Qt Company has managed to tighten things up and deliver Qt 5.10 Beta now less than one week later than originally scheduled.

      • KMyMoney’s WebConnect

        Recently, I opened a new online account at a new institution. Unfortunately, they do not provide a direct online access using a protocol such as HBCI or OFX which are already integrated into KMyMoney, but only a web frontend. So what, I thought, I won’t use it on a daily basis and can probably live with manually entering the transactions into the ledger.

      • QupZilla 2.2 Released As The Browser’s Last

        QupZilla 2.2 has been released as the last feature release for this open-source web-browser project prior to its re-branding initiative under the KDE umbrella as the Falkon project.

      • QupZilla 2.2.0 released!

        Final release of QupZilla is now available!

        As already stated, QupZilla will now get only bugfix releases and next major release will be under the Falkon name.

      • KMail User Survey Results, Part 1

        Back in August, we ran a survey to get input from our users and get a better understanding of how they use KMail. First, let me start by thanking everyone who took their time to fill in the survey. We collected over 3000 responses which is much more than we expected. Thank you very much! We got some interesting numbers and data from the survey, which I’ll analyze later, but to my big surprise, the most interesting part was the comments that many of you left at the end of the survey. We got over 1000 comments which provided us with a consistent feedback from the userbase. In this and the next blog posts, I want to address the common themes, complaints, and remarks that appeared in the comments, address the concerns raised and present some action plans that we are going to take to address those.

      • KTextEditorPreviewPlugin 0.2.0

        The KTextEditorPreviewPlugin software provides the KTextEditor Document Preview Plugin, a plugin for the editor Kate, the IDE KDevelop, or other software using the KTextEditor framework.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • KaOS 2017.09

        KaOS is a rolling release distribution built from scratch. It’s stated aim is “to create the highest quality distribution possible”. For that, it uses the Linux kernel, the KDE Plasma desktop and Arch’s Pacman package manager. Interestingly, the project’s website states that they are hoping to one day replace the Linux kernel with the Illumos kernel.

      • BunsenLabs Linux Deuterium review – Too much work

        Debian base, kernel 3.X, a desktop and some apps. That’s pretty much that. This is true in 90% of the cases, and the distinguishing factor is tiny, if any. But I’d like to believe there should be more, so that I can feel like I’m not just repeating same old stuff over and over without any real benefit or unique advantage. BunsenLabs Deuterium gives us a lightweight setup, it truly is that, but on any moderately decent hardware, the advantage goes away, and in its place, you get the horrible ergonomics of Openbox, which is simply not suited for any reasonable, modern work.

        Hardware support is mediocre, the installation process is quirky, it’s very hard to customize the desktop, network support is average, and in the end, you need to invest energy to achieve something you get out of the box with any other desktop environment. There’s really no justifiable reason for that. Perhaps Deuterium will appeal to a small base of users, who want the flexibility and simplicity of Openbox, but for the vast majority of people, it’s a hassle.

        So much in fact that I gave up. There wasn’t anything cardinally wrong with the distro. But it’s like walking into a store, seeing something, and then you move on, because there was no magic. Something like 2/10. Well, maybe next time. Or perhaps a different desktop environment.

    • New Releases
      • Chakra 2017.10 “Goedel” released

        We are excited to announce the second Chakra release of 2017, which you can download now via torrent or https.

      • Chakra GNU/Linux 2017.10 “Goedel” Released with KDE Plasma 5.10.5, Linux 4.12.4

        If you’re planning on trying out the Chakra GNU/Linux distribution, which is originally based on Arch Linux and built around the KDE desktop environment, you should know that there’s a new installation image available to download.

        Dubbed “Goedel” after the philosopher, mathematician, and logician Kurt Goedel, Chakra GNU/Linux 2017.10 was launched this past weekend as the most recent ISO image or installation medium of the Linux distro, packed full of updated technologies and core components for those who want to deploy the OS on new computers.

      • 4MParted 23.0 Disk Partitioning Live OS Enters Beta Based on Latest GParted Tool

        After he released last week the third minor maintenance update for the stable 4MLinux 22.0 operating system series, developer Zbigniew Konojacki‏ today informed us on the availability of a Beta version of his upcoming 4MParted 23.0 disk partitioning live system.

        Based on the forthcoming 4MLinux 23.0 operating system series, 4MParted 23.0 Beta is using the latest Gparted 0.29.0 open-source and free disk partitioning tool at its core, giving users an independent live system for all sorts of disk partitioning tasks, supporting numerous filesystems.

    • Arch Family
    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Debian GNU/Linux 9.2 “Stretch” Live & Installable ISOs Now Available to Download

        As expected, the recently released Debian GNU/Linux 9.2 “Stretch” maintenance update is now available to download from the official mirrors as installable and live ISOs for those who want to deploy the Linux OS on new PCs.

        Debian GNU/Linux 9.2 is the second point release of the Debian Stretch operating system series, coming two and a half months after the first maintenance update. As initially reported, it brings more than 150 security and bug fixes combined, offering users an up-to-date installation medium.

      • Debian 9.2 ‘Stretch’ Linux-based operating system is here — download the distro now

        Debian is one of the most important Linux-based operating systems. It is a great distribution in its own right, but it is also the foundation of many other distros. For instance, Ubuntu is largely based on Debian, and then many operating systems are based on Ubuntu. If you were to look at a Linux “family tree,” many roads would lead back to the wonderful Debian.

        The most recent version of Debian is 9.x, code-named “Stretch”. The second point release for the operating system, version 9.2, is now available. There are many bug fixes — plus significant security patches — so despite being a point release, it is still very important.

      • Debian GNU/Linux 9.2 “Stretch” Released With Tons Of Fixes
  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Is the rise of open source connected to a decline in selfishness?

    In an age of political animus, increasing hostility toward “others,” and 24/7 media coverage that seems to focus on the negative, a recent article in Frontiers in Psychology provides a glimmer of hope, particularly for those who live in the United States.

    Written by Yale University academic Gabriel Grant, “Exploring the Possibility of Peak Individualism, Humanity’s Existential Crisis, and an Emerging Age of Purpose” aims to clear up two competing views of today’s cultural narrative in the United States. First is the traditional view of the next generation—millennials—whom many view as individualistic, materialistic, and narcissistic. Some even refer to millennials as “Gen Me” in response to those who develop their “personal brand” with selfies and social media posts.

  • A step change in managing your calendar, without social media

    Have you been to an event recently involving free software or a related topic? How did you find it? Are you organizing an event and don’t want to fall into the trap of using Facebook or Meetup or other services that compete for a share of your community’s attention?

    Are you keen to find events in foreign destinations related to your interest areas to coincide with other travel intentions?

    Have you been concerned when your GSoC or Outreachy interns lost a week of their project going through the bureaucracy to get a visa for your community’s event? Would you like to make it easier for them to find the best events in the countries that welcome and respect visitors?

    In many recent discussions about free software activism, people have struggled to break out of the illusion that social media is the way to cultivate new contacts. Wouldn’t it be great to make more meaningful contacts by attending more a more diverse range of events rather than losing time on social media?

  • Three Steps to Gaining Influence in an Open Source Project as a New Enterprise Contributor

    When The Linux Foundation started OpenDaylight, our first networking project, nobody that I was working with had ever done open source before. Four years later there has been a significant shift in the entire networking industry. And we’re watching this transformation happen from one industry to the next.

    In those four years, I’ve also witnessed many large organizations with significant engineering investments blunder their way into open source. For example, they might just fly in and drop 20,000 awesome lines of code into a project and then get upset that nobody actually picked it up.

  • OpenDaylight sets focus on accelerating time to market for Nitrogen, Oxygen open source initiatives

    As OpenDaylight gears up for its ODL-Developer focused event to introduce ideas and planning activities during the Oxygen development cycle, a key focus of the group is to accelerate the time it takes to release new projects into the open source community.

    The organization has continued to move quickly on new projects like its latest release of Nitrogen and upcoming ones like Oxygen.

  • How CBC Radio Canada wants to create open-source SMPTE 2110 software

    Many of the people who journeyed to IBC to affirm their plans for moving to IP will have been at the EBU’s open source event to extend their ambitions once they had caught wind of CBC Radio Canada’s plan to create an open source solution for the integration of the SMPTE ST 2110 interface.

    [...]

    “We strongly believe in true open standards and interoperability between multiple vendors. In production, separate multicast streams for video and audio are a must. We also believe that the pace of innovation of Ethernet technologies is such that compression is not required for most of our real-time production requirements,” said Legrand. “Our first objective was to help TR03/ST2110 became the de facto standard by providing the market with an OSS implementation. We chose FFmpeg because it’s an open source media pipeline used in a large number of consumer and professional media products.”

  • Free Software Efforts (2017W40)

    In this week I have looked at censorship in Catalonia and had my “deleted” Facebook account hacked (which made HN front page). I’ve also been thinking about DRM on the web.

  • The EME Debacle: A Moodler’s Perspective. Open Source News Roundup

    Last September, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), representing “major organizations such as Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Mozilla, Apple, [and] Adobe,” published specifications for Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) and recommended its adoption as a modern web standard. According to the Consortium, EME will allow playback and streaming of encrypted media content. Among EME features, there are content protection mechanisms, encryption/decryption modules, the concept of “licensing servers,” and distribution packaging services for EME-compatible content. While EME serves many purposes, it clearly supports Digital Rights Management (DRM) practices that bind reproduction of media to a client or user with the proper key or license.

    [...]

    In Moodle, an active movement of openness in technology and educational resources seems to protect us from any negative consequences of this predicament, at least for the time being. Just like when commercial LMS started to appear after Moodle, competitive open source solutions continued to thrive and do to this day. Still, no purely economic argument for openness exists that is fully convincing. Until more satisfying evidence appears, it’s best to assume that the existence of technologies like Moodle relies on ideology and values –even at the risk of looking paranoid– rather than strictly financial sense, for open source’s own sake.

  • Web Browsers
    • Chrome
    • Mozilla
      • The most important Firefox command line options

        The Firefox web browser supports a number of command line options that it can be run with to customize startup of the web browser.

        You may have come upon some of them in the past, for instance the command -P “profile name” to start the browser with the specified profile, or -private to start a new private browsing session.

        The following guide lists important command line options for Firefox. It is not a complete list of all available options, as many are used only for specific purposes that have little to no value to users of the browser.

  • Databases
    • PostgreSQL says SCRAM to MD5 authentication

      release of PostgreSQL 10, the open source database’s developers are farewelling the deprecated MD5 in their authentication mechanism.

      Released late last week, PostgreSQL 10 instead uses an SHA-256 implementation of the Salted Challenge-Response Authentication Mechanism (SCRAM-SHA-256, described in RFC7677).

      The database has also gained the ability to distribute workloads across multiple nodes.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • Collabora Online 2.1.4 released

      Collabora Productivity, the driving force behind putting LibreOffice in the Cloud, is excited to announce a new release of its flagship enterprise-ready cloud document suite – Collabora Online 2.1.4, with new features and multiple improvements.

      The Collabora Online Development Edition (CODE) has been updated to version 2.1.4 as well.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • gnURL 7.56.0 released

      Merges from cURL 7.56.0 upstream release and some gnURL specific fixes.
      For more info you can read the git log or the generated CHANGELOG file (only present in the tarball).

  • Programming/Development
    • GitLab raises $20M Series C round led by GV
    • GitLab raises $20 Million Series C Round Led by GV to Complete DevOps
    • GitLab raises $20 million in funding to create DevOps software, tools
    • Why I still choose Ruby

      So putting the performance aspect of these environments aside we need to look at the syntactic nature of these languages as well as the features and tools they offer for developers. The last is the easiest to tackle as these days most notable languages come with compilers/interpreters, debuggers, task systems, test suites, documentation engines, and much more. This was not always the case though as Ruby was one of the first languages that pioneered builtin package management through rubygems, and integrated dependency solutions via gemspecs, bundler, etc. CPAN and a few other language-specific online repositories existed before, but with Ruby you got integration that was a core part of the runtime environment and community support. Ruby is still known to be on the leading front of integrated and end-to-end solutions.

  • Standards/Consortia
    • OpenDocument Format Plugfest and test site

      We will be checking how well ODF supported in different software packages. Anyone can participate on-line, because we have built a website to do this testing.

      In this blog, I will explain what this website does so you can participate. The first twenty people that participate on-line tomorrow will receive a ‘thank you’ postcard.

Leftovers
  • Science
    • A Program from a 35 Year Old Magazine for “BASIC Month” and a Chat with Its Author
    • Universities must rediscover the passion for knowledge

      It’s up to universities to produce well-rounded students, but when courses are forced upon students, they end up doing the opposite. In the US, as it is everywhere, there are more and more students who go to university without a clue of what they want to do with their life. After graduation, many more end up in jobs that have nothing to do with their degree. When they start university, they are forced to sit through a series of subjects they have no interest in because it is said this will help guide them into their career. But these compulsory general-education courses have become pure academic profit-seeking. Instead of swaying students into a career path, they have led to increased apathy and confusion among students.

  • Hardware
  • Health/Nutrition
    • Galveston’s BioLab Amid Global Warming

      Ken Kramer grew up in the 1950s and 1960s in Houston. As a child he spent a lot of time on Galveston, an island about 50 miles away in the Gulf of Mexico. Kramer experienced Hurricane Carla in 1961 with gusts of 175 mph and a storm surge of 22 feet. It destroyed 120 buildings on Galveston, though the eye was 120 miles away. He also studied the 1900 storm that devastated the island. The Great Hurricane of Galveston is still the worst humanitarian, natural disaster in U.S. history. Somewhere between 8,000 and 12,000 people were killed.

    • Trump’s Hurt Feelings over Puerto Rico

      The federal response to Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico has come under harsh criticism, including President Trump’s delay in even recognizing the extent of the catastrophe and then his foisting blame on San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz Soto, who literally has been waist-deep in working against the flood.

  • Security
    • Forget stealing data — these hackers broke into Amazon’s cloud to mine bitcoin

      A report from the security intelligence group RedLock found at least two companies which had their AWS cloud services compromised by hackers [sic] who wanted nothing more than to use the computer power to mine the cryptocurrency bitcoin. The hackers [sic] ultimately got access to Amazon’s cloud servers after discovering that their administration consoles weren’t password protected.

    • Disqus discovers hack [sic] of 17.5m user details after five years

      The biggest Web comment hosting service Disqus was breached in 2012 but the company only knew of it last week, according to an announcement made on Friday.

    • A Mysterious Virus Has Infiltrated America’s Drone Program

      There’s something deeply wrong at Creech Air Force Base, the notorious home of America’s drone program, where pilots remotely order US Reaper and Predator drones to unleash destructive missile strikes on unsuspecting villagers in Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other war zones.

      Less than a week after the Department of Homeland Security advised all federal agencies using anti-virus software created by Kaspersky Labs to remove the programs from their systems immediately, Ars Technica reports that two weeks ago the Defense Information Systems Agency detected mysterious spyware embedded in the drone “cockpits” – the control stations that pilots use to control the deadly machines.

    • CyberShaolin: Teaching the Next Generation of Cybersecurity Experts

      Reuben Paul is not the only kid who plays video games, but his fascination with games and computers set him on a unique journey of curiosity that led to an early interest in cybersecurity education and advocacy and the creation of CyberShaolin, an organization that helps children understand the threat of cyberattacks. Paul, who is now 11 years old, will present a keynote talk at Open Source Summit in Prague, sharing his experiences and highlighting insecurities in toys, devices, and other technologies in daily use.

    • [Open Source Security Podcast] Episode 65 – Will aliens overthrow us before AI?
  • Defence/Aggression
    • UK trade department draws half its secondees from arms industry

      Half of the private sector employees seconded to the Department for International Trade have strong links to the defence industry, according to new figures.

      The revelation has drawn accusations that Liam Fox’s department, which promotes Britain’s commercial exports, is “shamelessly cosy” with arms traders and ignoring other industries.

      The department said its secondees from the private sector provided “valuable business insight and experience”.

    • War, Rumours Of War, And Stupidity

      This is a very dangerous game as NK has some nukes that will be used or lost, hordes of artillery, infantry and armour that will be used if hostilities break out. Indeed, if Kim decides Trump will attack, Kim may well decide to attack first with artillery including rockets and nukes against the South. Hundreds of thousands could die in the first day. USA does not have the manpower and neither does the South to hold back Kim’s hordes so tactical nukes are almost certain to be used. If USA applies air-power over the North, Russia and China may attack and a royal mess will happen including four sources of tactical nukes. The Korean war may be fought over the last cinder behind which a Korean is hiding.

      Checks and balances are not working in USA. Congress is powerless to impeach Trump until stuff really hits the fan.

    • America’s Long History of Warfare

      Often this is aimed at controlling foreign resources, thus forcing upon others the consequences of their own capitalist avarice. At other times the violence is spurred on by an ideology that confuses U.S. interests with civilization and freedom. Only very rarely is Washington out there on the side of the angels. Regardless, the bottom line seems to be that peace has never been a deeply ingrained cultural value for the citizens of the United States. As pertains to foreign policy, America’s national culture is a war culture.

      It is against this historical backdrop that the recent Ken Burns 18-hour-long documentary on the Vietnam War comes off as superficial. There is a subtle suggestion that while those American leaders who initiated and escalated the war were certainly deceptive, murderously stubborn and even self-deluded, they were so in what they considered to be a good cause. They wanted to stop the spread of Communism at a time when the Cold War defined almost all of foreign policy, and if that meant denying the Vietnamese the right of national unification, so be it. The Burns documentary is a visual demonstration of the fact that such a strategy could not work. Nonetheless, American leaders, both civilian and military, could not let go.

      What the Burns documentary does not tell us – and it is this that makes the work superficial – is that none of this was new. Almost all preceding American violence abroad had been rationalized by the same or related set of excuses that kept the Vietnam slaughter going: the Revolutionary War was about “liberty,” the genocidal wars against the Native Americans were about spreading “civilization,” the wars against Mexico and Spain were about spreading “freedom,” and once capitalism became officially synonymous with freedom, the dozens of bloody incursions into Central and South America also became about our “right” to carry on “free enterprise.” As time went by, when Washington wasn’t spreading “freedom,” it was defending it. And so it goes, round and round.

    • At Bannon’s Behest, Blackwater Founder and War-Profiteer Erik Prince Mulling Senate Run

      Encouraged by former White House chief strategist and current executive chairman of Breitbart Steve Bannon, Blackwater founder and “notorious mercenary” Erik Prince is reportedly considering a 2018 Senate run in Wyoming against incumbent Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.).

      Prince’s plan was first reported by the New York Times on Sunday. Though Prince has few personal or political ties to Wyoming, the Times notes that the state is “attractive” to him “because it has none of the personal political entanglements he would face in his home state of Michigan.”

    • Iranian President: ‘Entire World Will Condemn America’ if Trump Kills Nuclear Deal

      “We have achieved benefits that are irreversible. Nobody can roll them back, neither Trump, nor 10 other Trumps,” Rouhani said in an address to students at Tehran University. “If the United States violates [the nuclear deal], the entire world will condemn America, not Iran.”

      Right-wing hawks within and outside of the Trump administration have for months urged the president to scrap the accord, which he repeatedly slammed on the campaign trail.

      Critics have argued that withdrawing from the deal would represent an embrace of “war over peace.”

    • Iran warns U.S. against imposing further sanctions

      Iran warned the United States against designating its Revolutionary Guards Corp as a terrorist group and said U.S. regional military bases would be at risk if further sanctions were passed.

      The warning came after the White House said on Friday that President Donald Trump would announce new U.S. responses to Iran’s missile tests, support for “terrorism” and cyber operations as part of his new Iran strategy.

    • “Sonic Attacks” in Cuba: Who Benefits?

      Consider this. The United States government doesn’t know who’s responsible for the so-called acoustic attacks on its embassy personnel in Havana. Then consider this. Cuban president Raúl Castro didn’t simply claim his government had nothing to do with the incidents, he did the unthinkable and invited the FBI to investigate. FBI agents haven’t been able to figure it out. Neither have American acoustics specialists or medical experts. Even Canada’s Mounties, whose own diplomats reported similar attacks, are stymied.

    • Trump Threatens War on North Korea, Saying, “Only One Thing Will Work!”

      The president’s spat with Sen. Corker came as Trump repeated threats of war against North Korea throughout the weekend, tweeting, “Presidents and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years, agreements made and massive amounts of money paid hasn’t worked, agreements violated before the ink was dry, makings fools of U.S. negotiators. Sorry, but only one thing will work!” In brief comments to reporters Saturday, Trump was asked to clarify that remark—as well as a cryptic comment he made last week during a meeting with top generals in which he warned about about the “calm before the storm.”

    • How I Never Learned to Stop Worrying and Always Hated the Bomb

      In 2012, at a local chapter meeting of a national veterans group soon after the article “The Legacy of the Nuclear Freeze Movement” appeared at CounterPunch, the chapter head of the organization criticized me for downplaying the ongoing threat to world peace that nuclear weapons posed. The major premise of the piece was that the Nuclear Freeze Movement of the early 1980s was only a marginally effective campaign against nuclear weapons and their proliferation. In 2012, it seemed to me that the threat of their use was not high on the list of a cause for action. By then, the peace movement was so weak that the threat of nuclear war was not high on the list of those who still were antiwar protesters.

      Fast-forward to Donald Trump’s meeting on October 5, 2017 with military leaders. Speaking to reporters, Trump said, “This is the calm before the storm.” When questioned about what he meant by that statement, Trump’s retort was “You’ll see.” (“In meeting with military, Trump talks of ‘calm before the storm,’” Reuters, October 5, 2017).

    • What America Taught the Nazis

      There was no more extravagant site for Third Reich political theater than the spectacular parade grounds, two large stadiums, and congress hall in Nuremberg, a project masterminded by Albert Speer. From 1933 to 1938, he choreographed massive rallies associated with the annual conference of the Nazi Party, assemblies made famous by Leni Riefenstahl’s stunning documentaries of 1933 and 1935, The Victory of Faith and Triumph of the Will. Nuremberg was the setting for the September 1935 “Party Rally of Freedom,” at which a special session of the Reichstag passed, by acclamation, legislation that disqualified Jews as Reich citizens with political rights, forbade them to marry or have sex with persons identified as racial Germans, and prohibited any display by Jews of national colors or the new national flag, a banner with a swastika.

      Just eight days after the Reich Citizenship Law, the Law on the Protection of German Blood and German Honor, and the Reich Flag Law were formally proclaimed by Adolf Hitler, 45 Nazi lawyers sailed for New York under the auspices of the Association of National Socialist German Jurists. The trip was a reward for the lawyers, who had codified the Reich’s race-based legal philosophy. The announced purpose of the visit was to gain “special insight into the workings of American legal and economic life through study and lectures,” and the leader of the group was Ludwig Fischer. As the governor of the Warsaw District half a decade later, he would preside over the brutal order of the ghetto.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • The Sam Adams Associates – the Weirdest Club in the World

      Since 2002 a unique award ceremony has taken place annually in either the USA or Europe: the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence. This year it occurred in Washington DC on 22 September and was given to veteran journalist and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Seymour Hersh.

      Why unique? Well the group comprising the Sam Adams Associates is made up of former Western intelligence, military and diplomatic professionals, many of whom have spoken out about abuses and crimes committed by their employers. For their pains, most have lost their jobs and some have also lost their liberty.

      Laureates include US army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley (Time person of the year in 2002 and the first SAA laureate), publisher Julian Assange, UK Ambassador Craig Murray, and co-ordinator of the US National Intelligence Estimate on Iran in 2007, Dr Tom Fingar.

      The common theme that binds this disparate group together into a rather weird, wonderful and very informal global club is that they have all attempted to shine a light on the dark corners of government, to speak truth to power and expose wrongdoing and “fake news” for the greater good of humanity. It is appalling that they have to pay such a high personal price for doing this, which is why the Sam Adams Associates provides recognition and presents as its annual award – a candle stick, the “corner brightener”.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Trump: Anomaly in Continuity

      If its environmental policies are not soon reversed, the Trump administration will do incalculable harm to future generations. And, as the custodian of America’s nuclear arsenal and Commander-in-Chief of what is potentially the most lethal military force in the history of the world, the harm Trump could do, and seems always on the brink of doing, to persons now living is, if anything, even more grave. So far, though, what the Donald has harmed most is the office he holds and America’s standing in the world.

    • Hurricane Nate Brings Power Outages and Flooding to Gulf Coast

      On the Gulf Coast, Hurricane Nate made landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River in southeastern Louisiana Saturday night as a Category 1 storm, making a second landfall later that night near Biloxi, Mississippi. The storm brought power outages and flooding to parts of the region but did not result in the sorts of damage seen by this year’s far more powerful hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

    • Carbon emissions from warming soils could trigger disastrous feedback loop

      Warming soils are releasing more carbon into the atmosphere than previously thought, suggesting a potentially disastrous feedback mechanism whereby increases in global temperatures will trigger massive new carbon releases in a cycle that may be impossible to break.

      The increased production of carbon comes from the microbes within soils, according to a report in the peer-review journal Science, published on Friday.

      The 26-year study is one of the biggest of its kind, and is a groundbreaking addition to our scant knowledge of exactly how warming will affect natural systems.

  • Finance
    • How Big Corporations Game Our Democracy Into Their Plutocracy

      A major chapter in American history – rarely taught in our schools – is how ever larger corporations have moved to game, neutralize and undermine the people’s continual efforts to protect our touted democratic society. It is a fascinating story of the relentless exercise of power conceived or seized by corporations, with the strategic guidance of corporate lawyers.

      Start with their birth certificate – the state charters that bring these corporate entities into existence, with limited liability for their investors. In the early 1800s, the Massachusetts legislature chartered many of the textile manufacturing companies. These charters could be renewed on good behavior, because lawmakers then viewed charters as privileges contingent on meeting the broad interests of society.

    • Puerto Rico Needs Aid, Not an Occupation

      DONALD TRUMP couldn’t resist taking the opportunity of his visit on Tuesday to lecture the people of Puerto Rico about how grateful they should be–to him, of course–and how horrible they are for daring to suffer.

      Unbelievably–or perhaps all too believably, considering who we’re talking about–Trump declared that the island’s 3.4 million inhabitants, who are still trying to survive without basic necessities two weeks after being hit head-on by Hurricane Maria, aren’t enduring a “real catastrophe.”

    • Brexit has led to falling real wages in the UK

      The UK has not yet left the European Union and the long-term economic effects of Brexit remain unknown. However, one of the trends which has attracted attention so far is a drop in real wages for UK workers, which many economists have put down to the immediate depreciation of the pound after the referendum and a subsequent rise in the cost of imports. Simon Wren-Lewis (Oxford University) explains that the picture is more complex than this, and that UK firms are anticipating a decline in the terms of trade following Brexit by not allowing nominal wages to rise to compensate for higher import prices.

    • Your money or your morals: capitalism and fossil fuel divestment

      The fossil fuel divestment campaign has become one of the most rapidly growing divestment movements in history and has unified an impressive diversity of supporters—from liberal Californian universities to the Rockefeller’s family trust. But the contradictions between divestment and the logic of neoliberalism are enduring, and arguments between campaigners and their opponents are typically framed by questions relating to efficiency, feasibility, and the ethics of using fossil fuels.

      Such questions are certainly important to ask, but we should also look beyond them, because by doing so we can uncover the deeper ethical contradictions inherent to capitalism which shed important light on strategies for change.

      Economists and philosophers have long disputed whether capitalism’s theoretical potential to harness human self-interest for the greater good of society is a virtue or a vice. Many argue that capitalism doesn’t just harness a natural human inclination towards self-interest, but rather systematically cultivates it. Others point to the vast increases in material wealth experienced around the world over the past centuries as all the proof we need of capitalism’s superiority; in this view, debates about the morality of self-interest as the driving force of change become irrelevant.

    • An ISDS lobbyist in the EU Court of Justice?

      EU Court of Justice’s Advocate General (AG) Melchior Wathelet finds that investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) agreements between EU countries are compatible with the EU treaties. (Opinion in the Achmea v. Slovak republic, the ruling of the Court will follow later.) ISDS gives private parties access to the supranational level to challenge government decisions. The AG sees the ISDS tribunal in question as a court or tribunal common to two EU Member States.

      Unfortunately, as I will explain below, in his Opinion the AG disregards known issues and options. I will argue that if the AG wouldn’t have disregarded these issues and options, he couldn’t have reached his conclusion. Specifically, the AG disregards known issues regarding independence and impartiality of ISDS tribunals.

    • Theresa May refuses to deny receiving secret legal advice that Brexit can be stopped

      Theresa May is refusing to deny she has received secret legal advice that Brexit can be stopped if MPs vote against any exit deal she secures.

      The Prime Minister’s spokesman dodged questions about the controversy, insisting the Government does not “comment on government legal advice”.

      No 10 has been accused of suppressing advice that the Article 50 notification can be withdrawn unilaterally (if necessary), which would leave the UK in the EU on its current terms.

    • Equifax Breach Fallout: Your Salary History

      In May, KrebsOnSecurity broke a story about lax security at a payroll division of big-three credit bureau Equifax that let identity thieves access personal and financial data on an unknown number of Americans. Incredibly, this same division makes it simple to access detailed salary and employment history on a large portion of Americans using little more than someone’s Social Security number and date of birth — both data elements that were stolen in the recent breach at Equifax.

    • Green MEP urges members to back Stop Brexit position

      Molly, who is Green Party speaker on Brexit, has reaffirmed a commitment to a ratification referendum at the Party’s conference in Harrogate and has told members it is the best way to reverse the decision to leave the EU.

      In her speech to conference, Molly said:

      “I believe that the historic mistake to leave the EU can and must be reversed. It is through championing our ratification referendum and campaigning to remain in the EU in such a referendum that the people will bring an end to this damaging and dangerous chapter in our county’s history. I believe as Greens we must add our voices to the growing chorus demanding that we can – and we must – Stop Brexit!”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Spain: shall we talk?

      Independent of their views on Catalan independence, many were horrified by the police brutality and the authoritarian stance taken by the Popular Party against peaceful people who were expressing their right to express themselves through a vote. The increase in repression against peaceful protest notably since the mass mobilizations following 15-M is unfortunately not restricted to the recent and most visible manifestation in Cataluña, but has been a source of concern for human rights observers and activists mobilizing against the recent passage of the Law for the Protection of Citizen Security, more commonly known as the Gag Law (or Ley Mordaza). As if that weren’t bad enough, following the fiasco, neither side showed signs of sitting down and opening dialogue, with Catalan Parliament Carles Puigdemont threatening to carry out his original threat to unilaterally declare independence (DUI) following a favourable outcome in the referendum, despite participation of only 43% of the electoral census under conditions that do not guarantee the validity of the results (contrast with the 75% who voted in the 2015 Catalan elections) and the PP government threatening to invoke the never before used article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which authorizes the state to dissolve the powers of the autonomous community by force if necessary in the case of a threat to the general interest of Spain.

    • We wondered why Trump was behaving like he is, but now we know: it’s all about revenge

      I and many non-imbeciles have wondered before if Trump took a far more monumental decision that night than Obama’s about bin Laden. Was that the moment he resolved to become President purely to punish Obama by dismantling his legacy?

      With each week that passes, it is more certain that it was. The longer it hurtles towards wherever it’s headed, the more transparently this festering excrescence of a presidency is revealed as a monstrous revenger fantasy brought to life.

    • Why Facebook is in a hole over data mining

      It’s Mark Zuckerberg’s business model that allows Facebook to be manipulated by political activists – no wonder he’s in denial about it

    • The 6 Most Downright Evil Things Done By Huge Companies

      Being a global-scale asshole with no conscience or regard for human life isn’t technically a requirement for running a major corporation, but it sure helps. While most companies will settle for screwing lots of people in little ways across many years, others simply say “Eh, what the hell” and go full supervillain in the name of profit.

    • Greens ‘are changing the debate’, co-leader tells members

      Greens have changed the political weather on issues from fracking to austerity, co-leader Jonathan Bartley will tell the party’s conference later.
      He will count the introduction of the Living Wage and keeping climate change high up the agenda as successes of the Green Party of England and Wales.
      It “will be the most influential” party in 21st Century politics, he will add.
      The conference in Harrogate comes four months after the snap election in which the Greens saw their vote share fall.
      Like the Lib Dems, SNP and UKIP, the Greens suffered as 82% of voters backed the Conservatives or Labour.

    • Brazilians in the south asked to vote on secession

      Voters in the south of Brazil have been asked in an informal vote whether they want to be part of a new country.

      The referendum was organised a week after a similar vote in Catalonia by a secessionist movement called “The South Is My Country”.

      The movement said it set up polls in more than 1,000 municipalities across the states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and Paraná.
      The group’s leader, Celso Deucher, says he hopes to gather three million votes.

    • ‘Art Of The Deal’ Author Just Tweeted The Most Chilling Trump Warning Yet

      While the tweet in itself clearly is threatening war on North Korea, Schwartz’s comments just after it, only solidifies the fact that the President is using threats and attacks on Twitter to shift the media and the nation’s attention away from his own shortcomings. Considering Schwartz’s comments, one can only guess what the President’s response may be, should Special Counsel Robert Mueller recommend an indictment of any number of his family members, or even the President himself.

    • We can no longer pretend the British press is impartial

      Finally: there’s a debate about media bias. It’s becoming an unfortunate missed opportunity, though, because so far it’s only focusing on the leftwing blogs that have emerged in the past couple of years. Whatever the failings of, say, the Canary, it only gained traction because there is a substantial body of opinion in Britain which feels marginalised, unheard, and attacked by the broader media.

      The reason for that is this. Britain’s press is not an impartial disseminator of news and information. It is, by and large, a highly sophisticated and aggressive form of political campaigning and lobbying. It uses its extensive muscle to defend our current economic order which, after all, directly benefits the rich moguls who own almost the entire British press. Whether it’s the Sun, the Telegraph, the Times, the Daily Mail or the Daily Express, that means promoting the partisan interests of the Conservative party. The press has been instrumental in upholding the political consensus established by Thatcherism: deregulation, privatisation, low taxes on the rich and weak trade unions. It has traditionally defined what is politically acceptable and palatable in Britain, and ignored, demonised and humiliated individuals and movements which challenge this consensus.

      Rather than challenging powerful interests, the press is more interested in punching down, disseminating myths and outright lies in the process: from Hillsborough to immigrants to benefit claimants. Polling shows widespread acceptance of myths on everything from the true levels of benefit fraud and teenage pregnancies to how many immigrants there actually are in Britain, and media coverage plays a critical role in spreading these dangerous misconceptions. In the first two years of the Tory-Liberal Democrat government, a coalition of disability charities reported a surge in hate crimes against disabled people, partly because of inflammatory media coverage.

    • Mike Pence pisses away $200K+ in taxpayer money at staged protest

      United States’ top toady spent over $200K of taxpayer money flying to a football game he never intended to watch. Just another demonstration that the Trump administration continues to actively try and divide the country over race.

      I do not know much about football, but the two things I’ve come to understand will happen at a San Francisco 49ers game is that a) some players will take a knee and b) the San Francisco 49ers will lose. I’ve never seen a game. If you go, you expect to see players take a knee. Pence knows this.

    • Russian operatives used Twitter and Facebook to target veterans and military personnel, study says
  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Twitter shuts down Blackburn campaign announcement video

      Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s Senate campaign announcement ad has been blocked by Twitter over a statement the abortion rights opponent makes about the sale of fetal tissue for medical research.

      Blackburn, who is running for the seat being opened by the retirement of Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, boasts in the ad that she “stopped the sale of baby body parts.” A Twitter representative told the candidate’s vendors on Monday that the statement was “deemed an inflammatory statement that is likely to evoke a strong negative reaction:

      Twitter said the Blackburn campaign would be allowed to run the rest of the video if the flagged statement is omitted. While the decision keeps Blackburn from paying to promote the video on Twitter, it doesn’t keep it from being linked from YouTube and other platforms.

    • Pierre Omidyar: 6 ways social media has become a direct threat to democracy
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Congress must take action to protect whistleblowers from the NSA

      At the end of this year, Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act is due to expire unless it is renewed by Congress. The provision is known for authorizing mass surveillance programs operated by the National Security Agency. If Congress renews the program, it should ensure strong whistleblower protections are in place to guard against abuse. Unfortunately, whistleblowers in national security and intelligence agencies today are specifically excluded from the protections applicable to employees and contractors of other federal agencies.

      Originally passed in 2008, the provision was hastily renewed in 2012 under the pressure of its looming expiration, and the doomsday predictions of government officials. “The FISA Act not only legitimated almost every thing president Bush had told me to do,” former NSA Director Michael Hayden said of the law, “but in fact gave the National Security Agency a great deal more authority to do these kind of things.”

    • The one change we need to surveillance law
    • [Old] The anonymous letters that started a decade-long stoush

      The question was absurd, and at the same time deadly serious. Australian intellectual property guru Francis Gurry was on the warpath and no stone was to be left unturned in unmasking the authors of the ugly, anonymous letters being sent to him – with copies landing on dozen of desks up and down Geneva’s diplomatic row.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Miami Beach Police Arrest Man for Making Parody Police Twitter Account
    • Let People Vote: Fighting to Restore America’s Voting Rights

      The four most common barriers to voting and how to tear them down.

      After President Obama’s election in 2008, some state legislatures responded to the increased turnout among young people and people of color by attempting to curb voting rights.

      The wave of voter suppression measures accelerated after the 2010 elections, with politicians enacting new laws that made it more difficult to register to vote and curtailed access to the ballot box. This effort got a boost from the Trump administration, which launched its own attacks on voting rights. Following President Trump’s baseless claim that 3 to 5 million people committed voter fraud during the 2016 election, the administration created the sham Pence-Kobach commission to push for restrictive voting laws.

      Voting restrictions disproportionately affect the elderly, low-income voters, young people, people with disabilities and communities of color. Many places that have imposed such restrictions also have a long and shameful history of racial discrimination. In the face of these growing attacks on constitutional rights, it is time to go on offense.

    • Why Trump Slaps Down Minority Protests

      First, when it comes to sports, Trump adores a big fat spectacle. He would have loved the Coliseum of ancient Rome. Can’t you just see him ruling over the games? Lions versus Christians or maybe one of the re-creations of a great Roman naval victory when they flooded the bottom of the arena with water and set ships ablaze, slaves giving up their lives for show business and special effects?

    • Filling Gaps Left By Trump, Nurses and Labor Unions Join Puerto Rico Relief Efforts

      As President Donald Trump continues to come under fire for failing to deliver sufficient help to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria—which killed dozens and left millions without power and running water—nurses, doctors, engineers, and other workers affiliated with various unions including National Nurses United (NNU) and the AFL-CIO have teamed up to assist with relief and recovery efforts.

    • How a network of citizen-spies foiled Nazi plots to exterminate Jews in 1930s L.A.

      On July 26, 1933, a group of Nazis held their first public rally in Los Angeles. As Jewish groups in the city debated how they should respond to Adolf Hitler’s persecution of Jews in Europe, L.A.’s Nazis, many of them German emigres, gathered at a biergarten downtown, wearing brown shirts and red, white and black armbands with swastikas.

      The Nazis belonged to a growing movement of white supremacists in L.A. that included many American brothers in hate: the Ku Klux Klan, a group of Hitler supporters known as the Silver Shirts, and a dozen like-minded organizations with vaguely patriotic names such as the American Nationalist Party, the Christian American Guard, and the National Protective Order of Gentiles.

      Some weeks ago, white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., chanted “Jews will not replace us.” Their predecessors were even less subtle: They called for “death to Jews.”

      Unwilling to wait and see if any of them would act on their threats, Leon Lewis, a Jewish lawyer and World War I veteran who had helped found the Anti-Defamation League, decided to investigate the anti-Semitic hate groups. In August 1933, mere weeks after the rally, Lewis recruited four fellow World War I veterans, plus their wives, to go undercover and join every Nazi and fascist group in the city.

    • 49ers’ Eric Reid: VP Pence leaving Colts game due to anthem protest was ‘PR stunt’

      “First of all, does anybody know the last time he went to a football game? With that being said, he tweeted out a three-year-old photo from the Colts game,” Reid told reporters, referring to what appears to be Pence reusing a photo that was originally taken during the 2014 season.

    • Dubai: British tourist faces jail ‘for accidentally touching man’s hip’ in bar

      A Scot is facing a three-year jail sentence in Dubai after putting his hand on a man in a bar so he did not “bump and spill drinks”, according to his representatives.

      Campaign group Detained in Dubai said Jamie Harron, from Stirling, was arrested for public indecency after touching a man on his hip.

      Mr Harron has reportedly spent more than £30,000 in expenses and legal fees, having been detained in the UAE since July.

    • The Sanitizing of Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks

      A lot of the debate around black NFL players kneeling to protest police killings and racism seems to take place in a historical vacuum. The history of athletes and protest is seldom mentioned and, what’s worse, the reason why Colin Kaepernick and his comrades began protesting during the national anthem has been drowned out in the shouting. On #MAGA twitter, flooded in recent weeks with angry mobs calling for a boycott of the NFL, various images have been making the rounds depicting Martin Luther King Jr. with his hand over his heart in respect for the American flag. One photo was accompanied by a message saying MLK “didn’t take the knee in protest of the flag or the anthem, he took the knee in prayer to God.” It was followed by the hashtag #BoycottNFL.

    • Have You Ever Unfriended Your Right-Wing Facebook Friends Out of Anger and Frustration?

      In 2015, Headlee, the host of Georgia Public Broadcasting’s “On Second Thought,” gave a TEDx talk on what we can do to have better conversations — and why we absolutely need to — that racked up nearly nine million views. On a recent episode of “Salon Talks,” she spoke about our fondness for echo chambers, and why they’re so detrimental to true discourse.

      “What we’re doing when we try to unfriend people in real life, and when we try to tailor life the way you tailor your Twitter feed,” she explained, “is you’re trying to strategize discomfort out of your life. You’re trying to never see opinions you don’t agree with; you’re trying to never have conversations that might devolve into an argument, and that means you’re going to surround yourself with people who agree with you.”

    • Pence Departure From NFL Game Slammed as ‘PR Stunt’ Orchestrated by Trump

      Vice President Mike Pence made headlines Sunday afternoon for leaving an Indianapolis Colts game after more than a dozen players on the opposing team—the San Francisco 49ers—kneeled during the national anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality.

      While Pence implied that he left the game of his own volition, President Donald Trump tweeted an hour later that he “asked” Pence to “leave [the] stadium if any players kneeled.”

    • Inside The FBI’s Half-Secret Relationship With Hollywood

      When director Henry-Alex Rubin requested the FBI’s help with his 2012 cyber drama Disconnect, he wanted notes on the screenplay’s accuracy. But he suspected they wanted something more.

      “They understand that perception is everything,” he told BuzzFeed News of the FBI. “The more they are perceived well, the easier their job is.”

      He recalled that the FBI employee who reviewed the shooting draft of his film proposed changes to a scene in which two agents aggressively questioned a journalist.

    • “Human Flow”: World-Renowned Artist & Activist Ai Weiwei on His Epic New Documentary on Refugees

      The United Nations says there are now more refugees worldwide than at any time since World War II. The journey and struggle of these 65 million refugees is the subject of Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei’s epic new documentary. It’s called “Human Flow.” For the documentary, Ai Weiwei traveled to 23 countries and dozens of refugee camps. We speak to world-renowned Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei.

    • WPP companies lobbied for NRA – as ad firm claimed to oppose gun violence

      The British advertising and public relations company WPP has been one of the National Rifle Association’s most important political advocates in the last decade, with companies it owns collecting $1.46m (£1.1m) in lobbying fees since 2007 to further the US pro-gun group’s agenda.

      At the same time as companies owned by WPP helped the NRA block gun control legislation in Washington, WPP sought to portray itself as being opposed to gun violence. A sustainability report on its website points to a 2013 pro gun-control advert that one of its advertising companies produced pro bono as part of WPP’s human rights work.

      Last week the US had its deadliest mass shooting in recent history, when a man with a stockpile of weapons opened fire on concertgoers in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and wounding 500.

    • Christopher Columbus is No Hero

      What do the following cities and towns—Burbank and Los Angeles, California; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Oak Park, Illinois; Davenport, Iowa; Portland, Maine; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Farmington, New Mexico; Ithaca, New York; Charlottesville, Virginia; and Edmonds, Washington—have in common?

      They have all, within the last month, replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. In so doing, these municipalities have joined the cities of Denver, Phoenix, St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Seattle; the states of Alaska, South Dakota, and Vermont; and various countries in South America that have taken a dramatic first step toward foregrounding the history of Indigenous peoples in the Americas.

      Perhaps it is time for other cities, towns, states, counties, businesses, colleges, universities, and school districts throughout the United States to do the same.

    • Antifa in Theory and in Practice

      In recent weeks, a totally disoriented left has been widely exhorted to unify around a masked vanguard calling itself Antifa, for anti-fascist. Hooded and dressed in black, Antifa is essentially a variation of the Black Bloc, familiar for introducing violence into peaceful demonstrations in many countries. Imported from Europe, the label Antifa sounds more political. It also serves the purpose of stigmatizing those it attacks as “fascists”.

      Despite its imported European name, Antifa is basically just another example of America’s steady descent into violence.

    • Charlottesville, VA: White Nationalists Return 8 Weeks After Violent Protests

      In Charlottesville, Virginia, a few dozen white nationalists carrying torches gathered near a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee Saturday night, eight weeks after far-right protesters at a larger rally attacked anti-fascist protesters, injuring dozens and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. Saturday’s rally was the third in Charlottesville organized by white nationalist Richard Spencer. It came after city officials covered the statue of Robert E. Lee in a black tarp last month in the wake of August’s violence, and after President Trump blamed “both sides” for the attacks, claiming there were “very fine people” among far-right protesters.

    • Voting Restrictions Could Affect Alabama’s Special US Senate Election

      Roy Moore’s win in the Sept. 26 Republican primary runoff for Alabama’s US Senate seat previously occupied by Jeff Sessions has put an afterthought of a race back into the national spotlight. In a special election to be held on Dec. 12, Moore — a far-right former chief justice of the state Supreme Court who defeated the appointed incumbent Luther Strange — will face Democrat Doug Jones, a former US attorney who successfully prosecuted KKK members for the 1963 Birmingham church bombing.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Correa: Academics Disagree With Assumptions About IP, Innovation And Development

      The event featured Prof. Carlos Correa, special advisor on trade and intellectual property at the South Centre and director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies on Industrial Property at the Law Faculty of the University of Buenos Aires. He gave an academic perspective on the relationship between intellectual property and development.

    • Copyrights
      • SOPA Ghosts Hinder U.S. Pirate Site Blocking Efforts

        US music and movie industry companies helped to get pirate sites blocked in many countries but on their home turf, legal action is surprisingly absent. For years we have wondered why local ISPs are being left alone and we now have an answer. Former RIAA executive Neil Turkewitz says that SOPA’s ghosts have been a major stumbling block.

      • How Some Private Torrent Sites Are Using Cryptocurrency Mining For Your Benefit

        Last month, it was reported that popular torrent website The Pirate Bay was mining Monero digital currency from the CPUs of the visitors. This move was received with much flak as the users weren’t made aware of such steps.

      • Private Torrent Sites Allow Users to Mine Cryptocurrency for Upload Credit

        As cryptocurrency mining becomes more closely associated with ‘pirate’ sites, some private torrent trackers are implementing an interesting solution to their own economic problems. Through the use of miners, users are able to generate revenue for a site but they’re also given so-called ‘upload credit’ in return, which in itself is a virtual currency variant used to ‘buy’ content.

Microsoft Lobbying, the EPO, and Software Patents Disguised as ‘Internet of Things’

Sunday 8th of October 2017 11:03:00 PM

“[The EPO] can’t distinguish between hardware and software so the patents get issued anyway” —Marshall Phelps (Microsoft at the time)

Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO) continues to act like a vassal of patent aggressors, Microsoft carries on pretending that it’s no longer attacking Free software, and evidence shows that patent policy is being perturbed by lobbyists connected to Microsoft

TECHRIGHTS published many thousands of articles about Microsoft, particularly regarding the company’s use (or misuse) of patents. It’s no secret that Microsoft front groups and other nefarious lobbies want to make Free/Open Source software more difficult (if not impossible) in Europe. Microsoft lobbies if not bribes for the removal of GNU/Linux not just from Munich but also anywhere else around Germany and Europe as a whole. We wrote many articles about it over the years. We gave many concrete examples. We also published some secret E-mails to that effect. The evidence is there, but corporate media is rarely interested in such stories; there’s a PR campaign going on now. It’s more profitable. Nasty spin is what brings income. Malicious companies that elevated themselves to dominance/monopoly by dirty tricks and sometimes crime don’t just change overnight; they might simply hire more lobbyists (for better connections) and deploy better marketing. “Microsoft loves Linux” is one of the latest incredible lies*.

“Malicious companies that elevated themselves to dominance/monopoly by dirty tricks and sometimes crime don’t just change overnight; they might simply hire more lobbyists (for better connections) and deploy better marketing.”Recently we saw further evidence that Apache had been compromised. Microsoft paid the ASF too much and even put its own ‘moles’ (or full-time staff) in leadership positions at the ASF. And let’s not even mention the LF and OSI. That may be a subject for another day. Notice how Microsoft never joined OIN and never promised not to sue/threaten with patents (the same promise needs to be made for Microsoft-connected patent trolls). In 2017, unfortunately, Microsoft continues to operate like the Mafia; it pays those who may otherwise speak out (or simply ‘eliminates’ them) while patent blackmail goes on covertly.

The other day we found out that the BSA-connected firm of Bill Gates’ father, a firm which is also connected to Microsoft lobbyists, is targeting the EPO now. As a reminder, many employees of the Business Software Alliance (BSA) moved back and forth (from and to this firm). We wrote a lot about that around 2007. This article came out a few days ago:

K&L Gates has launched a European Patent Office (EPO) practice.

The new practice, combined with K&L Gates’ network of intellectual procurement, portfolio management, and litigation lawyers and patent attorneys makes it the only fully integrated global law firm with full-service patent capabilities in the US, Australia, and Europe, it claims.

“Some time back, we embarked on the mission of bolstering our global patent prosecution capabilities to include an EPO practice in order to better provide our clients with a truly global IP solution,” said Robert M. Barrett, a partner at the firm’s Chicago office.

Remember that a lot of the staff is connected to the BSA, which we’ll come to in a moment.

As we have been pointing out for a number of months, the “IoT” buzzword is nowadays being used as a loophole for software patents. Another such word is “AI”, which only yesterday Watchtroll tried to frame as patentable (in spite of Alice). A few days ago we saw a new press release that said “AI Technology Patents” in the headline. “AI” is just a codeword for software patents which are neither allowed nor enforceable in the US anymore. “Procurement Software Company Xeeva Announces Receipt of Multiple AI Technology Patents,” it said, but these are simply software patents ‘dressed up’ as something scientific or smart. As we shall show in a moment, Microsoft uses such buzzwords more and more.

“What we basically have here are patent radicals plotting to put software patents right inside standards using the “IoT” buzzword.”As for the EPO, internal documents exposed that it had offered Microsoft an inherently-discriminatory fast lane. And yet, the "SMEs" lies continue to be trotted out. Here’s one from Friday, followed by retweeting of others who do the same. This is all based on a big lie from the EPO — the pure nonsense which is EPO working for SMEs rather than to their impediment/detriment. See “Using intellectual property to help large multinationals harness their innovative edge” — that’s the headline and tone of an article published by IAM some days ago. We’re expected to believe that anyone other than these “large multinationals” (or patent trolls) would benefit. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Now comes the interesting part. Last month we wrote quite a bit about IP Europe and the EPO. Days ago someone told us about “European Standardization” with “Francisco MINGORANCE (IP Europe)” in it. It’s about so-called ‘IoT’ and there’s a “Kick-off meeting CEN-CENELEC/WS IoT SEP licensing” (“SEP licensing” is standard-essential patent tax).

So the lobbyists are once again killing everything that is sane!

Mingorance isn’t new to us. We wrote about him when he worked for the BSA and more recently in relation to the UPC and EPO [1, 2]. They’re all pretty close.

What we basically have here are patent radicals plotting to put software patents right inside standards using the “IoT” buzzword. They link to a patent maximalists’ site and tweet: “#Standards bodies, global tech developers & users to create a European Vision for #SEP licensing for #IoT and #5G”

“Sites like Groklaw and Techrights sort of gave up on ASF ages ago, for various different reasons, even well before their chief was a Microsoft employee.”As the President of the FFII interpreted it, “5G and IOT standards to be dominated by trolls, making free software impossible [] Today swpat [software patents] lobbyists meetup to exclude free software from 5G and IOT https://is.gd/eaT8xS”

Incidentally, only days ago IAM published this article titled “Monetising patented wireless technologies”, composed by Marc Pépin from TechPats, Ottawa, Canada. About a week ago we also heard from inside sources about a war on Free software in wireless technology. They’re understandably concerned when software patent are being painted “IoT” or G*” to impose a tax on everything, rendering Free software unsuitable for purpose.

It was pointed out to us that Apache played a role in it, too. Sites like Groklaw and Techrights sort of gave up on ASF ages ago, for various different reasons, even well before their chief was a Microsoft employee. As it turns out, Jim Jagielski became part of the problem and he recently sent a shout-out to Sam Ramji and congratulated Microsoft. It would not be a big deal if he hadn’t also been “very big” on Inner Source, and gave 3 talks at this secret event, InnerSource Commons Fall Summit 2017.

“As a reminder, Microsoft is still lobbying quietly (more quietly than IBM) against Alice. Microsoft wants to leverage software patents against everyone.”Then there’s this event, Second Joint ITU-NGMN Alliance Workshop on Open Source and Standards for 5G. Hosted by Microsoft! This is what entryism looks like. This is the second workshop and the first one was hosted by Qualcomm.

“Software patents are the key issue there,” we got told, and “the mobile industry wants to define FOSS as “access to the code” and normalise separate patent agreements, and wants regulators to endorse that position.”

As a reminder, Microsoft is still lobbying quietly (more quietly than IBM) against Alice. Microsoft wants to leverage software patents against everyone.
_____
* The PR campaign is so strong and so broad that one gets nothing but scorn (like “tinfoil hat”) for being sane and rational about what Microsoft is truly up to.

Depressing State of Affairs at the European Patent Office (EPO)

Sunday 8th of October 2017 09:22:33 PM

It’s becoming all about litigation, not patents


Reference: Scott Pruitt’s Crimes Against Nature

Summary: The slow, agonising disintegration of the EPO as seen from the lens of insiders, many of whom are baffled by the self-harm inflicted by EPO management

THE EPO has truly become a catastrophe. Employees of the EPO are unable to grasp how or why this was tolerated. Could the Organisation not see that the head of the Office was a deranged individual whose grim vision would doom the Office? Is it possible that the Organisation — or at least some delegates there — did not mind this destruction if that meant an ascent of the UPC? Whatever the case may be (and there’s room for speculation), the EPO is expected to lay off many of its employees next year. It’s simple mathematics, seeing how the number of applications continues to decline while files are processed faster than ever (which is not a good thing as it’s indicative of low quality). Recently, judges from the appeal boards were driven out of EPO premises and thrown at some facility in Haar — a precursor to further declines in patent quality (or inability to decline patent grants based on thorough, in-depth analysis).

“Recently, judges from the appeal boards were driven out of EPO premises and thrown at some facility in Haar — a precursor to further declines in patent quality…”We have been writing about the EPO for about a decade and covered it more closely since the summer of 2014. Things have gotten a lot worse since. As a reminder, patent litigation in Germany is soaring, mostly because of patent trolls. This is good for patent law firms, but it’s bad for everybody else. Well, maybe the local hospitality business benefits from housing of claimants and plaintiffs, but what good is that in the long term? And who for? At whose expense?

The other day we saw a press release about a new lawsuit in Germany over an EP [1, 2], followed by something about the shares [1, 2].

“The migration of legal firms to Germany (not just Munich) — a subject we’ll touch again in our next post — follows the gold rush of aforementioned litigation.”Earlier today Patently-O wrote about Bayer, the German company that had bought Monsanto, suing companies over genetics (using patents that oughtn’t even exist).

This litigation was in the US:

Bayer sued Dow for infringement, but a prior agreement forced to the case to arbitration and a $455 arbitration award for Bayer that was affirmed by the Federal Circuit.

[...]

Unlike many areas of law, the Patent Act includes a particular provision recognizing voluntary arbitration of patent dispute. 35 U.S.C. 294. The provision indicates that the Federal Arbitration Act (Title 9) should be followed “to the extent such title is not inconsistent with this section.” The statute particularly provides that the ordinary defenses to patent infringement “shall be considered by the arbitrator if raised.”

The migration of legal firms to Germany (not just Munich) — a subject we’ll touch again in our next post — follows the gold rush of aforementioned litigation. Days ago Marks & Clerk employees were updating or reposting their old stuff (which we covered before). Thomas Prock and Will Nieuwenhuys once again pushed out puff pieces about UPC and patentability tricks. They try hard to encourage the harvesting of low-quality patents to be followed by litigation. But as people in the US found out, low-quality patents untilmately lead to low confidence in the potency of one’s patents and thus sharp decrease in litigation.

It’s hard to tell what the EPO will look like in 5 or 10 years (if it even exists at that stage), but certainly Battistelli now faces a crisis of his own making.

Links 8/10/2017: Debian 9.2 Released, OpenBSD 6.2 Next Week

Sunday 8th of October 2017 06:09:48 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Linux Journal October 2017
  • Desktop
    • System76 – POP! goes my heart

      This was far more interesting than I’d expected. One, there isn’t ONE font that works uniformly well across different desktop environments, and frankly, that is a little bit disturbing. Two, Ubuntu still offers the most complete default package. Three, POP! fonts are rather nice and modern, and it seems they work the best in stock Gnome, if you’re not already using something like Droid Sans.

      It would seem we’ve chipped another facet of this multi-dimensional monster called Linux Fonts, as it feels just impossible to nail down the simple, elegant formula for maximum ergonomics, productivity and fun. You have to ride the licensing, anti-aliasing and hinting shuttles all at the same time, and they seem to be going in different directions. Ubuntu is way ahead of the rest, and this is why the System76 experiment will be rather intriguing. I want to see how the complete package will behave. You should test and see how you feel about Roboto Slab and Fira. My hunch says, Gnome great, Ubuntu, not so much. But we will see. And of course, we shall be testing the distro, so stay tuned.

  • Audiocasts/Shows
    • S10E31 – Plausible Dull Story

      This week we’ve been playing Wasteland 2 and switching back to Firefox. We also discuss Amber Rudd (dullard UK home secretary) not needing to understand encryption, Mycroft 2 is vertical, Firefox is going Quantum, Uber being banned in London and a new Linux laptop from Google.

  • Kernel Space
    • Notes from the LPC tracing microconference

      The “tracing and BPF” microconference was held on the final day of the 2017 Linux Plumbers Conference; it covered a number of topics relevant to heavy users of kernel and user-space tracing. Read on for a summary of a number of those discussions on topics like BPF introspection, stack traces, kprobes, uprobes, and the Common Trace Format.

      Unfortunately, your editor had to leave the session before it reached its end, so this article does not reflect all of the topics discussed there. For those who are interested, this Etherpad instance contains notes taken by participants at the session.

    • An update on live kernel patching

      In the refereed track at the 2017 Linux Plumbers Conference (LPC), Jiri Kosina gave an update on the status and plans for the live kernel patching feature. It is a feature that has a long history—pre-dating Linux itself—and has had a multi-year path into the kernel. Kosina reviewed that history, while also looking at some of the limitations and missing features for live patching.

      The first question that gets asked about patching a running kernel is “why?”, he said. That question gets asked in the comments on LWN articles and elsewhere. The main driver of the feature is the high cost of downtime in data centers. That leads data center operators to plan outages many months in advance to reduce the cost; but in the case of a zero-day vulnerability, that time is not available. Live kernel patching is targeted at making small security fixes as a stopgap measure until the kernel can be updated during a less-hurried, planned outage. It is not meant for replacing the kernel bit by bit over time, but as an emergency measure when the kernel is vulnerable.

    • Safety-critical realtime with Linux

      Doing realtime processing with a general-purpose operating-system like Linux can be a challenge by itself, but safety-critical realtime processing ups the ante considerably. During a session at Open Source Summit North America, Wolfgang Mauerer discussed the difficulties involved in this kind of work and what Linux has to offer.

      Realtime processing, as many have said, is not synonymous with “real fast”. It is, instead, focused on deterministic response time and repeatable results. Getting there involves quantifying the worst-case scenario and being prepared to handle it — a 99% success rate is not good enough. The emphasis on worst-case performance is at the core of the difference with performance-oriented processing, which uses caches, lookahead algorithms, pipelines, and more to optimize the average case.

    • A New Ubuntu Kernel Build With The Very Latest AMDGPU DC Patches For 4.15

      This week the latest AMDGPU DC patches were queued up ahead of Linux 4.15. As covered in that article, those several dozen patches mostly further clean-up this major AMDGPU display code rework and trim it up by a few thousand lines of code. For those wishing to test out this new display stack, here is a fresh Ubutu/Debian x86_64 kernel build.

    • Facebook Developers Working On FSPERF For Better Linux File-System/Block Testing

      Josef Bacik of Facebook’s file-system/storage team has announced fsperf as a new testing framework around the Linux file-system/block storage code.

      With every Linux file-system developer seeming to construct his own scripts and to test their file-system/block kernel code in a different manner, Josef is hoping fsperf can unify some of the processes by these Linux kernel developers.

    • SLIMbus Framework Revised For The Linux Kernel

      Linaro developers have restored work on the SLIMbus patches for the Linux kernel, which have long been dormant.

      SLIMbus is the Serial Low-power Inter-chip Media Bus, which is a standard from the MIPI alliance to allow multiple digital audio components to communicate simultaneously and carry multiple audio streams of differing sample rates and bit widths.

    • Graphics Stack
      • A memory allocation API for graphics devices

        At last year’s X.Org Developers Conference (XDC), James Jones began the process of coming up with an API for allocating memory so that it is accessible to multiple different graphics devices in a system (e.g. GPUs, hardware compositors, video decoders, display hardware, cameras, etc.). At XDC 2017 in Mountain View, CA, he was back to update attendees on the progress that has been made. He has a prototype in progress, but there is plenty more to do, including working out some of the problems he has encountered along the way.

        Jones has been at NVIDIA for 13 years and has been working on this problem in various forms for most of that time, he said. Allocating buffers and passing them around between multiple drivers is a complicated problem. The allocator will sit in the same place as the Generic Buffer Management (GBM) component is today; it will be used both by applications and by various user-space driver components. The allocator will support both vendor-agnostic (e.g. Android ION) and vendor-specific back-ends, as well as combinations of the two.

      • Testing Primitive Binning With Vega 10 On RadeonSI

        One month back Marek Olšák landed support in the RadeonSI Gallium3D driver for primitive binning with Vega 10 GPUs but now that feature is likely to be disabled by default.

        Marek is moving ahead now to disable primitive binning by default for Vega 10 GPUs but to keep it enabled for upcoming Raven Ridge APUs. He explained in the proposed patch, “Our driver implementation is known to decrease performance for some tests, but we don’t know if any apps and benchmarks (e.g. those tested by Phoronix) are affected. This disables the feature just to be safe.”

      • Vulkan 1.0.62 Adds A New AMD Extension

        Vulkan 1.0.62 is now available as the latest updated specification for this high performance graphics and compute API.

        Vulkan 1.0.62 is mostly comprised of the usual documentation fixes and other clarifications. Nothing really too notable on that front with Vulkan 1.0.62.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Blade update – an alternative KRunner

        After David’s post, I got a few mails asking whether this change has anything to do with the project I started last summer, so I decided to provide a small update.

        My original plan was to ship a test version of Blade a few months after the project announcement, but that did not happen. The main reason was that there were some higher-priority things in Plasma I needed to work on, so I had to put this on hold a bit.

        While the project is not yet made public, some important things have happened that moved it forward quite a bit.

      • Plasma secrets: Custom app launchers – WINE, too

        I told you this was a beauty. It elegantly goes against all the accepted conventions of the Plasma desktop, including hidden desktop icons, task manager launchers linking to hidden icons, and Windows software running through WINE playing ball. All of this can be done relatively simply, quickly, easily, without any great messing about. I hope you like.

        One last thing, notice how my screenshots above no longer have any shadow, which is something that both Ksnapshot and Spectacle always do, if you use compositing? Well, that’s another secret we will resolve next time!

      • KDE at #UbuntuRally in New York! KDE Applications snaps!

        I was happy to attend Ubuntu Rally last week in New York with Aleix Pol to represent KDE.

      • KDE connect makes your mobile life easier

        KDE Connect connects between your mobile and Linux, wirelessly.

        You can copy photos, videos, or other files from mobile, or vise versa.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
  • Distributions
    • New Releases
      • IPFire 2.19 – Core Update 114 released

        This is the official release announcement for IPFire 2.19 – Core Update 114. It brings some changes under the hood and modernises the base system. On top of that, minor issues are being fixed and some packages have been updated.

    • Red Hat Family
      • Finance
      • Fedora
        • Fedora’s foundations meet proprietary drivers

          The Fedora project’s four “foundations” are named “Freedom”, “Friends”, “Features”, and “First”. Among other things, they commit the project to being firmly within the free-software camp (“we believe that advancing software and content freedom is a central goal for the Fedora Project, and that we should accomplish that goal through the use of the software and content we promote”) and to providing leading-edge software, including current kernels. Given that the kernel project, too, is focused on free software, it is interesting to see a call within the Fedora community to hold back on kernel updates in order to be able to support a proprietary driver.

          On September 5, Fedora kernel maintainer Laura Abbott announced that the just-released 4.13 kernel would be built for the (in-development) Fedora 27 release, and that it would eventually find its way into the Fedora 25 and 26 releases as well. That is all in line with how Fedora generally operates; new kernels are pushed out to all supported releases in relatively short order. Running current kernels by default is clearly a feature that many Fedora users find useful.

          More recently, though, James Hogarth noted that the NVIDIA proprietary driver did not work with the 4.13 kernel. This kind of breakage is not all that unusual. While the user-space ABI must be preserved, the kernel project defends its right to change internal interfaces at any time. Any problems that out-of-tree code experiences as a result of such changes is deemed to be part of the cost of staying out of the mainline. There is little sympathy for those who have to deal with such issues, and none at all if the out-of-tree code in question is proprietary. Community-oriented projects like Fedora usually take a similar attitude, refusing to slow down for the sake of proprietary code.

        • Progressive Web Applications

          This week I was talking about Progressive Web Applications at the headquarters of Táchira Univesity ( UNET ) and invited by the professor and my friend Miguel Useche, I also had the oportunity to speak to the students about the Fedora Project, i hope to get the doors open to new events like this and more students with interest to share knowledge at the future.

        • Fedora Classroom: Git 101: report
        • PHPUnit 6.4
    • Debian Family
      • Debian GNU/Linux 9.2 “Stretch” Update Introduces over 150 Security and Bug Fixes

        The Debian Project today announced the release of the second maintenance update of the Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” operating system series, adding a considerable number of bug fixes and security patches.

        Coming two and a half months after the release of Debian GNU/Linux 9.1, the Debian GNU/Linux 9.2 point release introduces numerous updates that regular Debian Stretch users should have received through the official channels of the popular distribution used by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

      • FAI 5.4 enters the embedded world

        I’m happy to join the Debian cloud sprint in a week, where more FAI related work is waiting.

      • Derivatives
        • Updated Debian 9: 9.2 released

          The Debian project is pleased to announce the second update of its stable distribution Debian 9 (codename “stretch”). This point release mainly adds corrections for security issues, along with a few adjustments for serious problems. Security advisories have already been published separately and are referenced where available.

          Please note that the point release does not constitute a new version of Debian 9 but only updates some of the packages included. There is no need to throw away old “stretch” media. After installation, packages can be upgraded to the current versions using an up-to-date Debian mirror.

          Those who frequently install updates from security.debian.org won’t have to update many packages, and most such updates are included in the point release.

          New installation images will be available soon at the regular locations.

        • Debian 9.2 Released

          The Debian project this week has announced the release of Debian GNU/Linux 9.2.

          This second point release to “Stretch” has a number of bug fixes and several security issues have been resolved. Among the changes in this release include a possible crash in Apt, a new upstream version of D-Bus has been incorporated, a new stable release of Flatpak, and more. The Linux 4.9.0-4 kernel is used by Debian 9.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Newbie’s Guide to Ubuntu 17.10 Part 1

            This is a tutorial series for newbies to operate Ubuntu 17.10. This is targeted to help newbies from MS Windows environment to run Ubuntu. This series is divided into 3 parts: first operating the desktop, second navigating the file manager, and third setting the system so it suits your needs. After the final part, this will be re-published as an ebook of UbuntuBuzz. So start your Ubuntu and enjoy this!

          • Ubuntu 17.10 New Features, Release Date and Upgrade Procedure

            Ubuntu 17.10 is a short-term release and will be supported for nine months. Which means that in July 2018, you must upgrade to a newer version or else you won’t get system and security updates.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • NO to Open-Source Ethereum Scaling Projects ICO – Vitalik Buterin

    Co-founder of Ethereum Blockchain Network – Vitalik Buterin, has declared through social media that he will not support or conduct an ICO for Plasma which is an open-source Scaling solution he developed working together with Joseph Poon – Bitcoin’s Lightning Network co-author.

  • Vitalik Buterin is Against Open-Source Ethereum Scaling Projects Conducting ICOs

    Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, recently announced that he will not be conducting an initial coin offering (ICO) for Plasma, an open-source scaling solution he has developed in collaboration with Bitcoin’s Lightning Network co-author Joseph Poon.

  • Cascadia Community Builder Award: 2017 winner announced

    The Cascadia Community Builder Award recognizes a person who has made an outstanding contribution to the free software movement in the Cascadia region, and this year’s winner is Lance Albertson. The award was presented in person on Saturday, October 7, at the Seattle GNU/Linux conference. Albertson is director for the Oregon State University Open Source Lab (OSUOSL) and has been involved with the Gentoo Linux project as a developer and package maintainer since 2003.

  • ITA trains MoE staff on using free and open source software

    The Information Technology Authority (ITA), in cooperation with Daleel Petroleum, is conducting a training programme for Ministry of Education employees, on using free and open source software (FOSS) till October 22.

    The training programme targets 200 employees in Dakhliyah and Dhahirah governorates and focuses on three main training curricula: Ubuntu for beginners, designed for teachers and supervisors and advanced Ubuntu for technicians in addition to GIMP and Inkscape software for teachers.

  • Open source technology promises to alter enterprise storage

    The most obvious example of this is the development of Linux, various distributions of which have been adopted as the cloud operating system of choice and the go-to platform for modern application developers.

  • Events
    • Join us at Sibos in Toronto!

      We’re traveling to Toronto in a few weeks to attend Sibos 2017, Oct 16-19. Under the conference theme of ‘Building for the Future,’ we have a robust program agenda planned that is designed to help attendees learn about permissioned blockchains, distributed ledger technologies and smart contracts, plus the latest innovations coming out of Hyperledger.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • BSD
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
  • Programming/Development
    • Facebook Has Been Working On C++ Modules Support For GCC

      For C++20 the long-awaited modules system is likely to finally land. Facebook engineers have been working on a C++ modules implementation already for the GNU Compiler Collection.

      Since LLVM Clang 5.0 has been an experimental C++ modules implementation there while on the GCC side there hasn’t been any implementation merged to master, but then again this technical specification isn’t yet set in stone for C++20. Nathan Sidwell of Facebook has been among the developers working on supporting C++ modules within GCC’s G++ front-end. Those unfamiliar with the proposed C++ module system can see the current TS.

Leftovers
  • Saying goodbye to the proto-social network of AOL Instant Messenger

    Many people remember specific, weird things about September 11, 2001. For me, it was a headline about stamps tucked into the chaos.

    As I started to absorb the horror of the day through TV and online news sources that Tuesday morning, I noticed an odd inflection point highlighted on the Washington Post’s list of “Top News” links. While the first three stories were blaring headlines about the terrorist attacks, I remember clearly that the fourth was a news brief about the threat of postal stamp rate increase, the last trivial story published before all other news got pushed aside indefinitely.

  • kthxbai: AOL Instant Messenger is being turned off on December 15th
  • The end of an era: AOL is shutting down iconic instant messaging tool AIM
  • London’s amazing underground infrastructure revealed in vintage cutaway maps

    Londonist’s roundup of cutaway maps — many from the outstanding Transport Museum in Covent Garden — combines the nerdy excitement of hidden tunnels with the aesthetic pleasure of isomorophic cutaway art, along with some interesting commentary on both the development of subterranean tunnels and works and the history of representing the built environment underground in two-dimension artwork.

  • Head, limbs of Kim Wall found, sinking story of suspect in submarine murder

    Danish investigators have announced that divers discovered bags containing the head, arms, legs, and clothing of reporter Kim Wall. She disappeared in August while aboard the crowdfunded submarine UC3 Nautilus with Peter “Rocket” Madsen, the sub’s designer. The bags were found not far from where Wall’s dismembered torso washed ashore 10 days after the Nautilus was deliberately sunk by Madsen near Copenhagen on August 11.

  • Hardware
  • Health/Nutrition
    • ‘Antibiotic apocalypse’: doctors sound alarm over drug resistance

      Scientists attending a recent meeting of the American Society for Microbiology reported they had uncovered a highly disturbing trend. They revealed that bacteria containing a gene known as mcr-1 – which confers resistance to the antibiotic colistin – had spread round the world at an alarming rate since its original discovery 18 months earlier. In one area of China, it was found that 25% of hospital patients now carried the gene.

      Colistin is known as the “antibiotic of last resort”. In many parts of the world doctors have turned to its use because patients were no longer responding to any other antimicrobial agent. Now resistance to its use is spreading across the globe.

    • Special Report: Puerto Ricans in Vieques Cope with Devastation & Fear Toxic Contamination from Maria

      We end today’s show where we began the week: in Puerto Rico. Doctors say the island’s health system remains crippled two weeks after Hurricane Maria hit the island, leaving more than 90 percent of the island without electricity and half of its residents without drinking water. That’s at least according to statistics published by FEMA on Wednesday. But on Thursday, FEMA removed data about access to drinking water and electricity in Puerto Rico from its website. Democracy Now!’s Juan Carlos Dávila is on the ground in Puerto Rico, and this week he managed to make it to the island of Vieques to speak with residents of the area that the U.S. Navy used as a bombing range for decades. Since the 1940s, the Navy used nearly three-quarters of the island for bombing practice, war games and dumping old munitions. The bombing stopped after a campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience, but the island continues to suffer. The Navy says it will take until 2025 to remove all the environmental damage left by more than 60 years of target practice. Juan Carlos filed this report from Vieques in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

    • Madagascar in panic amid raging “double plague” outbreak; dozens dead

      An unusually deadly seasonal outbreak of plague has gripped the island nation of Madagascar. As of Friday, 258 have been sickened and 36 have died just since August, according to Madagascar’s Ministry of Public Health.

      To try to stifle the spread, the government has forbidden public gatherings, including sporting events, and schools have closed for insecticide treatments that kill plague-spreading fleas. People have swarmed pharmacies, desperately seeking face masks and any antibiotics they can get. The World Health Organization on Friday announced that it has released $1.5 million in emergency funds and delivered nearly 1.2 million antibiotic doses to help combat the outbreak.

    • Dems Jump on Medicare-for-all Bandwagon, But Are They Sincere?

      Last month, Bernie Sanders unveiled a Senate bill that would phase in government-run universal health care. The single-payer, Medicare-for-all proposal attracted over a dozen Democratic Party co-sponsors and ignited progressives’ hopes across the country.

      Liberal figures like Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts signed on, but so too did other likely contenders for the 2020 presidential nomination — Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and Sen. Kamala Harris of California.

    • Tainted Honey: Bee-Poisoning Pesticides Found Globally

      Raising further concerns about the global food production system, a new study found that bees worldwide are being widely exposed to dangerous agricultural chemicals, with 75 percent of honey samples from six continents testing positive for pesticides known to harm pollinators.

      “What this shows is the magnitude of the contamination,” the study’s lead author, Edward Mitchell, a biology professor at the University of Neuchatel in Switzerland, told the Denver Post. He said there were “relatively few places where we did not find any” contaminated samples.

      For the study, published in the journal Science, Mitchell’s team of researchers examined nearly 200 samples for the five most commonly used neonicotinoid pesticides, or neonics.

    • Senator Calls on Insurers to Improve Access to Non-Opioid Pain Treatments

      UnitedHealth was cited in the story because it stopped covering Butrans, a painkilling skin patch that contains buprenorphine, an opioid that has a lower risk of abuse and dependence than generic, long-acting opioids. As a result, a patient said she turned to long-acting morphine to control her pain, went to the emergency room because she could not control her pain, and now visits her doctor more often than before.

    • Duterte’s ‘drug war’ is fueling the spread of disease
  • Security
    • FireEye Warns of Expanding FormBook Malware Attacks

      “Because of the affiliate model (or Malware-as-a-Service) set up and its open availability on the web, it is difficult to determine the attack origins, and could be attributed to anyone who has subscribed to the service,” Randi Eitzman, FireEye Analyst, told eSecurityPlanet.

      FormBook is being distributed via different document formats, including PDF, DOC and archive files that have some form of download link, macro or executable payload.

    • Disqus hacked [sic] : More than 17.5 million users’ details stolen by hackers in 2012 data breach

      About a third of the compromised accounts contained passwords that were salted and hashed using the weak SHA-1 algorithm. Disqus said the exposed user data dates back to 2007 with the most recent data exposed from July 2012.

    • iOS 11’s Misleading “Off-ish” Setting for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi is Bad for User Security

      Turning off your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios when you’re not using them is good security practice (not to mention good for your battery usage). When you consider Bluetooth’s known vulnerabilities, it’s especially important to make sure your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi settings are doing what you want them to. The iPhone’s newest operating system, however, makes it harder for users to control these settings.

      On an iPhone, users might instinctively swipe up to open Control Center and toggle Wi-Fi and Bluetooth off from the quick settings. Each icon switches from blue to gray, leading a user to reasonably believe they have been turned off—in other words, fully disabled. In iOS 10, that was true. However, in iOS 11, the same setting change no longer actually turns Wi-Fi or Bluetooth “off.”

      Instead, what actually happens in iOS 11 when you toggle your quick settings to “off” is that the phone will disconnect from Wi-Fi networks and some devices, but remain on for Apple services. Location Services is still enabled, Apple devices (like Apple Watch and Pencil) stay connected, and services such as Handoff and Instant Hotspot stay on. Apple’s UI fails to even attempt to communicate these exceptions to its users.

    • The Worst-Case Scenario for John Kelly’s Hacked [sic] Phone

      “Having a phone compromised for several months definitely is not good”

  • Defence/Aggression
    • We Need Thoughtful Coverage of Gun Violence, Not Slow Pans Over Arsenals

      Those words are from a 2015 blog post of a young man named Chris Harper-Mercer, describing Vester Flanagan, a man who killed a reporter and photographer on-air at a Virginia TV station before shooting himself, days previously. Harper-Mercer went on to shoot nine people to death at his community college in Oregon before shooting himself.

      Social scientists have long said that events like mass shootings are contagious, and that media serve as carriers. Forensic psychologist Park Dietz told the Village Voice in 1999 (5/4/99) that suicide, product tampering and mass murder lent themselves to imitation, and the degree of imitation is connected to sustained and sensationalized media coverage.

      UC San Diego’s David Phillips said he’d written a series of suggested guidelines for the World Health Organization that would make stories like this less likely to be imitated, without making it so the stories disappeared from the paper, adding, “You have to think of these stories as a sort of advertisement to mass murder.”

      [...]

      Some nonsense comes dressed up as thoughtfulness. Washington Post factchecker Glenn Kessler (10/4/17) gave “two Pinocchios” (“significant omissions and/or exaggerations”) to the claim by an obviously heated Sen. Tim Kaine that the attack was reason to oppose a GOP bill that would streamline the purchase of silencers for firearms. His remarks implied he thought silencers made shooting quieter, when actually they only muffle direction and besides, noise wasn’t “the only” reason police were able to locate the killer.

      You could also check the box for misleading superlatives. As The Root‘s Michael Harriot (10/3/17) pointed out, repeated references to the “worst mass shooting in US history” erased massacres like the 1921 riot in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when after bombing and burning the part of town known as “Black Wall Street,” white mobs—some “deputized” by local law enforcement, and given guns from the city armory—killed as many as 300 African-Americans. It’s not a contest, but context matters.
      The Nation: Gun Sales Are Plummeting and Trump Wants to Help

    • Lawyers accuse UK-backed Bahrain watchdogs over torture inquiry

      A group of British human rights lawyers have accused Bahraini oversight bodies funded by Britain’s government of violating international law by allegedly failing to investigate torture allegations against two inmates on death row.

      Mohamed Ramadan and Husain Moosa face imminent execution in Bahrain after its Supreme Court last year confirmed death sentences imposed by a lower tribunal based on false confessions extracted through torture, according to legal charity Reprieve.

      The two men had been convicted for a 2014 bomb attack in the village of al-Dair that killed a policeman.

    • Nuclear Ban Group ICAN Wins Nobel Peace Prize as Trump Threatens to End Iran Deal & Nuke North Korea

      As the Nobel Committee made their announcement today in Oslo, President Trump is expected to “decertify” the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal next week. We speak with Tim Wright, the Asia-Pacific director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, and go to Tehran and Washington to get response.

    • Recalling Japan’s ‘Comfort Women’ Rapes

      K.J. Noh: The term “Comfort Women” is a euphemism for the young women and girls forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military between 1932 and 1945 throughout the Asia Pacific region of Japan’s colonial “co-prosperity sphere.”

      It’s estimated that approximately between 200,000-400,000 women and girls, some as young as thirteen, were forced into an industrialized system of rape, “servicing” up to 60 soldiers a day. Scholars estimate that this resulted in a fatality rate of up to 90%. The system has been described as “considered unprecedented in its cruelty and magnitude,” and survivors have referred to “comfort stations” as “a living hell”, “a slaughter house”.

    • How Military Outsourcing Turned Toxic

      Fraud. Bribery. Incompetence. The military’s use of contractors adds to a legacy of environmental damage.

    • Shielding Saudis on Yemen Atrocities

      While rich Arab states bombard the Middle East’s poorest country, creating the world’s largest humanitarian crisis and an unprecedented cholera outbreak, the U.S. government (starting with the Obama administration and continuing with Trump’s) has continued to support them not only through the sale of weapons, but also through mid-air refueling, targeting intelligence, and other logistical support.

      The international community has betrayed Yemenis over and over again – examples include the United Nation’s capitulation to Saudi pressure by removing it from the list of child killers and allowing the Saudi-led Coalition to investigate (and clear) itself from any wrongdoing. Even as an inquiry into Yemen war crimes was finally agreed recently, the word “investigation” was dropped, and it remains to be seen which “regional experts” will comprise the committee.

    • Senator: Someone Needs to Be Fired Over Wasted $65 Million Plane

      When it comes to Afghanistan, the Pentagon seems to have a penchant for buying planes that don’t fly.

      The military “wasted” nearly $65 million on a single inoperable plane that spent years resting on jacks in a warehouse and didn’t manage even one flight in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense inspector general recently reported. The plane, tricked out with sophisticated surveillance capabilities, was supposed to fly counternarcotics missions to disrupt Afghanistan’s vast heroin operations, but languished on its perch in Delaware.

      “Consequently, the DoD received no benefit for its more than seven years’ work and $64.8 million in funds wasted,” the inspector general wrote.

    • Ignoring Today’s ‘Great Hungers’

      The Sisters have embraced numerous projects to protect the environment, welcome refugees, and nonviolently resist wars. I felt grateful to reconnect with people who so vigorously opposed any Irish support for U.S. military wars in Iraq. They had also campaigned to end the economic sanctions against Iraq, knowing that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children suffered and died for lack of food, medicine and clean water.

      This year, the Sisters asked me to first meet with local teenagers who would commemorate another time of starvation imposed by an imperial power. Joe Murray, who heads Action from Ireland (Afri), arranged for a class from Dublin’s Beneavin De La Salle College to join an Irish historian in a field adjacent to the Dunshaughlin work house on the outskirts of Dublin.

      Such workhouses dot the landscape of Ireland and England. In the mid-Nineteenth Century, during the famine years, they were dreaded places. People who went there knew they were near the brink of death due to hunger, disease, and dire poverty. Ominously, behind the workhouse lay the graveyard.

    • The Time for a Debate on Gun Control Is Now

      Another horrific mass shooting has occurred in the United States. On the night of Oct. 1 in Las Vegas, a 64-year-old white man named Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on more than 20,000 people attending a country music festival below. The death count at the time of this writing stands at 59, with 527 injured. The immediate response must be: How do we prevent another massacre? But that is exactly the debate the Trump administration wants to avoid.

      White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to the shooting from the podium of the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room – named in memory of President Ronald Reagan’s press secretary, who was shot and paralyzed during a 1981 assassination attempt on Reagan.

    • Are Trump’s Efforts to Sabotage Iran Nuclear Deal a Precursor for U.S. War with Iran?

      Amid news of the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, we turn now to look at whether President Donald Trump is trying to sabotage the Obama-brokered nuclear agreement with Iran and seek a war with Iran. According to The Washington Post, Trump is expected to announce next week the deal is not in the United States’ national interest, and will move to “decertify” the deal. If this happens, Congress will decide whether or not to reinstate harsh economic sanctions against Iran, potentially tanking the landmark deal. The move comes despite the fact the Trump administration begrudgingly certified that Iran has complied with its obligations under the agreement earlier this year, as has the International Atomic Energy Agency, which closely monitors Iran’s activities.

    • Kurdish Referendum Roils the Mideast

      What may have been conceived as a clever ploy by Masud’s eldest son, Masrour, to bolster the Barzani family’s flagging popularity by posing as a nationalist leader looks increasingly like a misstep. (Michel Rubin of AEI, has noted that “some [U.S.] Congressional staff and leaders with whom [Masrour] has met, came away from their meeting convinced that Masrour sought independence more to be heir apparent, in what will become hereditary [Kurdish] leadership, than out of sincere nationalistic concerns.”)

      And now, presidential and parliamentary elections — hastily called in the wake of the Oct. 3 death of former Iraqi President and Kurdish political leader Jalal Talibani — have descended into a mess. Rather than settle “the succession” upon his eldest son, Masud Barzani may instead have opened a wider struggle over leadership of the Kurdish people.

    • Challenging the Saudi Air War on Yemen

      The bill introduced by a bipartisan group of House members last week to end the direct U.S. military role in the Saudi coalition war in Yemen guarantees that the House of Representatives will vote for the first time on the single most important element of U.S. involvement in the war — the refueling of Saudi coalition planes systematically bombing Yemeni civilian targets.

    • Plummeting in Polls, Will Trump ‘Wag the Dog’ With Iran and North Korea?

      Trump is a blowhard and you can’t pay too much attention to his bluster or you’d never get any sleep.

    • Ellsberg, In Upcoming Book, Warns of Nuclear Dangers in the Era of Trump

      For most people, Daniel Ellsberg is known mainly for — or only for — the Pentagon Papers he leaked in 1971. And that’s plenty. It set in motion a landmark First Amendment case and led to shifts in public opinion that helped quicken the US withdrawal from Vietnam and the end to that war. Ellsberg was back in the public eye recently in relation to the epic 10-part PBS series on Vietnam, which included a lengthy segment on the Pentagon Papers — but his absence from the series as an interview subject drew criticism. Coming up: a movie drama on the Papers directed by Steven Spielberg.

      But, for me, the name Ellsberg does not immediately evoke “Vietnam” but rather “anti-nuclear.” And now he has written a book titled The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, to be published by Bloomsbury in December. In it he reveals that the 7,000 pages of the Pentagon Papers that he copied from his office at the Rand Corporation in 1969-70 were only “a fraction” of what he had borrowed from office safes. Much of the rest amounted to the “other” Pentagon papers — secret documents on US nuclear war plans and capabilities.

    • Normalising Russia

      There has been surprisingly little coverage of almost three hundred arrests yesterday of protestors across Russia demonstrating against Putin on his birthday. While the evidence so far is that demonstrations were not suppressed with the same level of brutal thuggery as witnessed in Spain, many more arrests were made which will have long term consequences for protestors.

      I fear the reason it was not covered much is that it is unsurprising. We have become habituated to the idea that democracy has not really taken root in Russia, and probably will not. But Putin’s continued domination of Russian politics, his playing of the system to avoid the restriction on number of terms, the elimination of the opposition media and the gradual but relentless tightening of the limits of free expression, are not inevitable.

      Children of the Cold War like myself were brought up to view Russia as isolated, threatening and entirely irrelevant to contemporary European culture. That of course is wrong. Russian writers, thinkers, scientists and composers are central to the very fabric of European civilisation. Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Bulgakov are as central to our thought as Tchaikovsky is to our emotion.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • The dangerous hypocrisy of celebrating Obama while criminalizing Manning: Kanji

      Last month, two well-known Americans — former president Barack Obama, and whistleblower Chelsea Manning — were supposed to visit Canada. But while Obama was welcomed like a hero, Manning — who was prosecuted by the Obama administration for leaking materials that included evidence of American atrocities — was banned.

      Two weeks ago, Canadian border officials prohibited Manning from entering the country: a decision that Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said he was unlikely to “interfere” with.

      Obama, in contrast, was eagerly embraced when he arrived in Toronto to deliver a speech last Friday. He was greeted by throngs of admirers and acclaimed by media commentators, whose only disappointment was that Obama was not more forthcoming in criticizing his successor.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • EPA photos show what US looked like before pollution regulation
    • Nate heralds latest US destruction as 2017 poised for record clean-up bill

      As Hurricane Nate crossed the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday, it brought with it the prospect of yet more destruction in a storm-battered year that is shaping up to be the most costly on US record.

      Nate was set to be the fourth major hurricane to hit in quick succession, after Harvey, Irma and Maria devastated southern Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

      According to statistics issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) on Friday, the clean-up bill could be without precedent. The US government can also expect more unwelcome news about how climate change is intensifying such natural disasters.

    • Nate makes nine Atlantic hurricanes in a row—unprecedented in modern era

      On August 9th, deep in the southern Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Franklin reached 85mph winds before moving into Mexico. Although the storm dropped some heavy rains over the Mexican state of Veracruz, Franklin’s effects were relatively moderate, and it was soon forgotten.

      But following Franklin’s formation two months ago, eight additional tropical systems have developed and been assigned names by the National Hurricane Center. And during this frenetic season, all of those systems have become hurricanes as well. That’s nine in a row, which is unprecedented in the modern hurricane era.

    • The Coral Reef Economy

      Coral reefs are one of Earth’s most productive ecosystems — both in terms of biology and cold, hard cash. Healthy coral reef ecosystems do everything from supporting millions of jobs to protecting lives and valuable coastal infrastructure, like hotels and roads, from storms and waves. In fact, each year coral reefs pump more than $3.4 billion into the U.S. economy And that’s a conservative estimate!

      Despite all they do for us, our coral reef ecosystems are threatened. Climate change, pollution from the land and harmful fishing practices top the list of threats. Fortunately, it’s not too late to protect these resources.

    • ‘Recovery Efforts Have Continually Favored the Monied Classes’

      The New York Times may have meant well with their September 24 editorial headlined “Puerto Rico Is American. We Can’t Ignore It Now,” which called on “all Americans” to rally behind their “fellow citizens” as Puerto Rico faces staggering devastation after hurricanes Maria and Irma.

      But there’s something hollow about underscoring the “Americanness” of people who do not in fact have the same rights of US citizenship, and in describing the factors that make the disaster much worse, and harder to address—namely Puerto Rico’s crushing debt and stifled economy—as “persistent agonies,” as though they were endemic conditions which we can only look upon and lament.

      With thousands of people lacking water, electricity, fuel, food and homes, the hurricanes created one sort of crisis in Puerto Rico, but they brought another into stark relief. What possible ways forward are there that could address both? Ed Morales is a freelance journalist and poet. He teaches at the Center for Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University, and is co-director of the documentary film Whose Barrio? about gentrification in East Harlem. He joins us now by phone. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Ed Morales.

    • Appetite for Destruction: Trump’s War on the Environment

      From the senseless slaughter in Las Vegas to the horrific impacts of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico, to Trump’s boisterous threats against North Korea and unfolding strife within the White House — it’s easy to get lost in the world’s madness and the nefarious mind of Prez Trump. It’s a dangerous vortex, no doubt, but Trump’s twitter storm and paper towel tossing photo ops are little more than a distraction from his administration’s unfettered assault on the environment.

      This past week, Team Trump quietly denied protection for 25 species that are on the verge of extinction, including the Pacific walrus and black-backed woodpecker. The reason, of course, is that science doesn’t mean jack shit to the corporate barons ruling our government.

    • We Lift You Up: Pretty Much Everyone Is Going Rogue To Help Puerto Rico

      In the same spirit, because the government can’t seem to get it together to help brown people suffering, many others have said they will. Groups of nurses, doctors and truckers have gone to the island, and multiple fundraising efforts are underway. Stephen Colbert, along with actor Nick Kroll, launched one of the more entertaining ones with #PuberMe. Daring celebrities to post their most cringe-worthy pre-pubescent photos of themselves complete with adolescent warts and angst – see John Oliver! – he promised to donate $1,000 per post to Puerto Rican relief. In a week, he raised a million dollars – or at least a thousand shy of a million until Lin-Manuel Miranda came by to help.

    • Climate change IS political, says Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley

      The Green Party will hit back at criticisms that it has politicised climate change at its conference next week – with co-leader Jonathan Bartley due to declare that global warming “is political”. The party conference kicks off in Harrogate on Sunday and Mr Bartley will give the leader’s speech on Monday. He will once again draw a link between extreme weather events such as hurricanes and climate change – as co-leader Caroline Lucas did in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma last month.

    • Warming Soils Could Trigger Potentially Unstoppable Climate Feedback Loop: Study

      New results from a long-term study point towards a potentially unstoppable feedback loop as earth’s rising temperatures drive soils to release more carbon emissions.

      As Bloomberg put it, “There’s a carbon bomb right under your feet.”

      Researchers behind the 26-year, ongoing experiment buried cables in a set plots in a Massachusetts forest and warmed the soil to 5 degrees C (9 degrees F) above the ambient temperature to see how their carbon emissions varied with control plots. They four phases of alternating soil carbon loss and carbon stability. Newsweek explains that “the team believes that during the peak periods, microbes [in the soil] are using up a plentiful supply of food. But when that runs out, the community has to find a new source of food, leading to the lulls in carbon release.”

    • The Spiraling Crisis of Puerto Rico

      Though President Trump bragged about the relatively low death toll from Hurricane Maria — 16 at the time of his visit on Tuesday — the number soon jumped to 34 and was expected to rise much more when isolated hospitals could finally report in.

      Many of the island’s 59 hospitals were cut off from power and half the island’s 3.4 million inhabitants lacked safe drinking water. The continuing crisis reflected a slow response from the federal government.

    • “It Was an Insult”: Rep. Nydia Velázquez on Trump’s Visit to Puerto Rico, Attacks on San Juan Mayor

      We get response from Puerto Rican-born Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) to President Trump’s visit to the island two weeks after Hurricane Maria, and his comments that he would help the U.S. territory wipe out its $73 billion debt to help it recover from the extensive damage caused by Hurricane Maria. White House budget director Mick Mulvaney later walked back the remarks.

    • Administration Blots Out Damning Data on Puerto Rico’s Lack of Power, Water From Federal Response Website

      The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has removed statistics on the large percentage of residents who still have no clean drinking water or electricity from its web page providing updates on the federal response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

      The Washington Post reported Thursday on the suppressed information.

      The page still exists, but no longer contains key data that 96 percent of the island’s residents still don’t have electricity and half still have no clean drinking water—statistics that clearly don’t comport with President Donald Trump’s positive pr spin on the administration’s highly-criticized response to the devastation.

      The data was still on the page as recently as Wednesday, but by Thursday had been wiped out.

  • Finance
    • The Elites ‘Have No Credibility Left:’ An Interview With Journalist Chris Hedges

      On Monday, WSWS International Editorial Board Chairman David North interviewed Chris Hedges, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author, lecturer and former New York Times correspondent. Among Hedges’ best-known books are War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, The Death of the Liberal Class, Empire of Illusion: the End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, which he co-wrote with the cartoonist Joe Sacco, and Wages of Rebellion: the Moral Imperative of Revolt.

      In an article published in Truthdig September 17, titled “The Silencing of Dissent,” Hedges referenced the WSWS coverage of Google’s censorship of left-wing sites and warned about the growth of “blacklisting, censorship and slandering dissidents as foreign agents for Russia and purveyors of ‘fake news.’”

    • US Chamber of Commerce calls Trump’s NAFTA proposals ‘highly dangerous’
    • Special Investigation: How America’s Biggest Bank Paid Its Fine for the 2008 Mortgage Crisis—With Phony Mortgages!

      Here’s how the alleged scam worked. JPMorgan moved to forgive the mortgages of tens of thousands of homeowners; the feds, in turn, credited these canceled loans against the penalties due under the 2012 and 2013 settlements. But here’s the rub: In many instances, JPMorgan was forgiving loans on properties it no longer owned.

    • Hacking Code/Space: Confounding the Code of Global Capitalism

      [...] first by emphasizing the relational aspect of these code/spaces, and second by showing how the digital algorithms of code/spaces are hackable rather than hegemonic. Using the case study of frequent flyer programs we demonstrate how networked knowledge sharing reshapes code/spaces to provide unintended opportunities such as low-cost travel and access to spaces normally only frequented by global elites.

    • New paper – Hacking Code/Space: Confounding the Code of Global Capitalism

      [...] we argue that while these sorts of practices are fun (and allowed us both something approaching unlimited mobility over the last few years), they have important (and more sinister) implications for what Doreen Massey refers to as ‘power geometries’.

    • How to hack frequent flyer miles for fun and profit

      This week, the Oxford Internet Institute published a new paper on the internet subculture of mile-churning, and it’s a surprisingly good introduction to the subculture. You’ll hear about the infamous Phillips Pudding Gambit, in which David accumulated 1.2 million miles by purchasing 12,150 cups of pudding that had been erroneously marked as individual purchases, thus achieving a legendary cost-per-mile of $.0025. There’s also the less well known Emmi Cheese Contango, in which a consortium of speculators purchased 1260 wheels of Emmi Swiss Gruyere for a slightly higher CPM of $.012.

    • German firms told to prepare for hard Brexit or face heavy losses

      German firms operating in the UK must brace themselves for a “very hard Brexit”, the Federation of German Industries has warned, as it called on its members to take precautions or be prepared to face heavy economic losses.

    • Don’t count on our independent Bank to stop Brexit disaster

      This Brexit business is an unmitigated disaster. As a senior European politician recently observed of the British: “It was heroic of you in 1940 to stand on your own against your enemies; it is ridiculous in 2017 to stand on your own against your friends.”

    • To Understand Amazon’s Delivery Ambitions, Consider the Long Game
    • Wells Fargo Offering Refunds Nationwide for Improper Mortgage Fees

      In a scandal that extended wider than was previously known, Wells Fargo said it would offer refunds to tens of thousands of customers who were improperly charged fees on home mortgages.

      ProPublica first reported earlier this year that the bank was chiseling customers by making them pay to extend interest rates on loans even when the delays were the bank’s fault. Current and former employees said at the time that the practice was especially prevalent in the Los Angeles area and Oregon. As it turns out, about 10 percent of the affected mortgages were in those two regions, and the rest were scattered nationwide, according to a person familiar with the issue. A Wells Fargo spokesman did not immediately return a call for comment.

    • Week in Review: End of May reopens Tory Brexit wounds

      Who wins from a Tory leadership contest? The usual assumption is that it is Remainer Tories, who finally have a chance to get rid of a hard Brexit prime minister and replace her with one of their own. “The plot is by Remain MPs to topple the PM, destroy Boris and put a Remain leader in place to delay and possibly destroy Brexit,” Conservative backbencher Nadine Dorries tweeted this morning. Ukip’s Patrick O’Flynn clearly smells a plot as well. “Is there a single Tory backbencher who supported Leave in the referendum who now wishes to ditch the PM before spring 2019?” he asked.

    • ‘Two-thirds’ of Hammond’s £26bn Budget war chest faces wipeout

      As much as two-thirds of the £26bn of headroom in the public finances that the chancellor created last year as a buffer for the economy through the Brexit period is likely to be wiped out after the government’s fiscal watchdog concludes its forecasts for growth have been too optimistic.

      The Office for Budget Responsibility will publish on Tuesday a new analysis suggesting it has persistently over-estimated Britain’s productivity over the past seven years and will give a broad hint that it will rectify the situation with a more pessimistic Budget forecast.

    • Muhammad Yunus on Microfinance, Grameen Bank & How 5 Men Own More Wealth Than Half the World

      Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, joins us for an extended interview on microfinance, the Grameen Bank, and how five men own more wealth than half of the world. His new book is titled “A World of Three Zeros: The New Economics of Zero Poverty, Zero Unemployment, and Zero Net Carbon Emissions.”

    • Data Analysis: Bankruptcy and Race in America

      The main driver of this disparity is chapter choice. Black people struggling with debts are choosing to file under Chapter 13, as opposed to Chapter 7, at much higher rates. Unlike Chapter 7, which in almost all cases provides permanent debt relief within a matter of months, Chapter 13 is a particularly risky choice for these debtors, because Chapter 13 usually requires five years of payments before any debt is wiped out, and black Americans are much less likely to have the resources to run this gauntlet. Nationally, for the years 2008 through 2010, only 39 percent of Chapter 13 cases filed by debtors from majority black zip codes ultimately resulted in a discharge of debts. In contrast, 58 percent of the cases filed by debtors from majority white zip codes were discharged. When we examined this disparity, controlling for income and other factors, a large gap remained.

    • “The Very Rich Will Benefit”: Trump’s Proposed Tax Plan Makes It Clear

      Did anyone really believe Trump when he said of his tax plan: “It’s not good for me, believe me. We’re targeting relief to working families. We will make sure benefits are focused on the middle class, the working men and women, not the highest-income earners”? If so, it proves that there is indeed a sucker born every minute.

      Now that the GOP has released its nine-page proposal, it is clear only a liar or fool or both (the definition of a politician?) would believe this to be anything other than a boon to Trump and his swamp-mates. Just what are some of the benefits accruing to those least in need of tax relief?

      (1) The highest marginal tax rate (MTR) — for individual incomes in excess of $418,400 — will be reduced from 39.6 percent to 35 percent, a policy that (as I outlined in an earlier article for Truthout), is not economically stimulative. After all, people with everything already have everything. They take windfall wealth and simply sock it away in already bloated investment accounts.

    • Britain, divided

      A country divided; that’s how Britain has felt since last year’s vote to leave the European Union. Remoaners versus Hard Brexiteers, all shades of gray abandoned. But what if Britain was literally, physically divided?

      The Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish have spent the months since the referendum grumbling about London’s approach to Brexit. Some even predict the union could be rent asunder as a result, with the Scots leading a domino effect of independence.

    • For-Profit Schools Get State Dollars For Dropouts Who Rarely Drop In

      Last school year, Ohio’s cash-strapped education department paid Capital High $1.4 million in taxpayer dollars to teach students on the verge of dropping out. But on a Thursday in May, students’ workstations in the storefront charter school run by for-profit EdisonLearning resembled place settings for a dinner party where most guests never arrived.

      In one room, empty chairs faced 25 blank computer monitors. Just three students sat in a science lab down the hall, and nine more in an unlit classroom, including one youth who sprawled out, head down, sleeping.

      Only three of the more than 170 students on Capital’s rolls attended class the required five hours that day, records obtained by ProPublica show. Almost two-thirds of the school’s students never showed up; others left early. Nearly a third of the roster failed to attend class all week.

    • Americans deepest in poverty lost more ground in 2016

      Although the overall U.S. poverty rate declined and incomes rose rapidly for the second straight year in 2016, many poor Americans fell deeper into poverty, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

      The official poverty rate was 12.7% last year, close to its pre-Great Recession level (12.5% in 2007). This represents 40.6 million people in poverty. But categorizing people as below or above the poverty line is just one way of looking at economic well-being.

    • Theresa May under pressure over ‘secret advice’ on halting Brexit

      Theresa May is under pressure to publish secret legal advice that is believed to state that parliament could still stop Brexit before the end of March 2019 if MPs judge that a change of mind is in the national interest. The move comes as concern grows that exit talks with Brussels are heading for disaster.

      The calls for the prime minister to reveal advice from the country’s top legal experts follow government statements declaring that Brexit is now unstoppable, and that MPs will have to choose between whatever deal is on offer next year – even if it is a bad one – or no deal at all.

    • Why it’s not too late to step back from the Brexit brink

      Last week, in response to a petition seeking a referendum on the final deal, the government not only refused to allow “the people” to decide on the terms of Brexit, it categorically stated that parliament will not be allowed to do so either. Parliament will instead be given what it calls “a meaningful vote … either [to] accept the final agreement or leave the EU with no agreement”.

      This is the opposite of “meaningful”; the government intends to refuse parliament the chance to reject both options – it must accept what is offered or take nothing at all. And this is the government’s position, irrespective of the dire consequences for our country or “the will of its people” to avoid them. Even though the UK could before March 2019 change its mind, the government says that it will on no account let that happen.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Facebook’s chief security officer let loose at critics on Twitter over the company’s algorithms

      The algorithms can be fooled or gamed, and part of the criticism is that Facebook and other tech companies don’t always seem to appreciate that algorithms have biases, too.

    • Facebook Security Chief Warns of Dangers in Fake News Solutions

      The company sent a note to advertisers telling them it would start to manually review ads targeted to people based on politics, religion, ethnicity or social issues. The company is trying to figure out how to monitor use of its system without censoring ideas, after the Russian government used fake accounts to spread political discord in the U.S. ahead of the election.

    • Facebook to manually review some political, social issue ads: report

      Facebook says it will now require ads that target people based on “politics, religion, ethnicity or social issues” to be manually reviewed by Facebook staff before going live, according to an Axios report Saturday citing a recent company email to advertisers.

    • What the Supreme Court Says About Sitting Out the National Anthem

      When the president uses what used to be called his “bully pulpit” – but now is called “Twitter” – to attack a person or an issue, of course it has much broader consequences.

    • Paedophilia and Politicians

      Paedophilia is in fact thankfully rare in society. It is notoriously difficult to estimate but medical authorities rate sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children at around 2% of the male population. But that is a figure for those who feel any kind of attraction, not for those who are prepared to act on it. That figure is far, far smaller. But it is very hard to quantify. There are approximately 20,000 convictions per year in the UK, but as the crime mostly happens within families that is certainly an understatement of the incidence. Most of the convictions also involve a family relationship.

    • For-Profit Schools Reward Students for Referrals and Facebook Endorsements

      Lyla Elkins transferred to North Nicholas High School in Cape Coral, Florida, in 2016 with hopes of sailing through its computer-based courses and graduating early. She didn’t realize the for-profit charter school would also be a source of income: a $25 gift card each time she persuaded a new student to enroll.

      “I referred almost all of my friends,” said Elkins, 17, who earned three gift cards. She also won a Valentine’s Day teddy bear in a raffle for sharing one of the school’s Facebook posts.

    • The Breakthrough: How a Reporter Uncovered Widespread Russian Meddling — In the Olympics

      In the spring of 2016, a Russian government chemist named Grigory Rodchenkov sat across from Rebecca Ruiz of The New York Times and gave her the kind of scoop journalists dream of.

      He told Ruiz and her colleague Michael Schwirtz how he helped orchestrate the covert distribution of steroids to dozens of the country’s top athletes. Russia went on to win 33 Olympic medals at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi — more than any other country. At least a third of the medal winners were linked to the elaborate doping scheme.

    • That Mythical Pro-Spanish Majority in Catalonia

      The media constantly pumps out the lie that there is a silent anti-independence majority in Catalonia, which is merely curiously invisible.

      Consider this. The highest turnout ever at an election in Catalonia was the 74.9% in the 2015 Regional Election, with 4,130.196 people casting their vote. At Spanish general elections turnout is even lower, at 69%. A minimum of 25.1% of the population never vote at all. Of that 25% who do not vote, some will be dead, or moved away, but most are probably just not civilly engaged.

      The trick of the pro-Spanish lobby is to boycott polls on Independence, and then claim that this minimum 25% of the electorate who never vote at all anyway, are anti-Independence and participating in the boycott. In truth there are absolutely no grounds to attribute the minimum 25% habitual non-voters as anti-independence. Particularly the dead ones.

    • The Islamaphobia industry

      The prevalence of Islamophobia in liberal discourse is part of the mainstreaming of anti-Muslim, anti-refugee and anti-migrant racism that many believe to be the territory of the far right.

    • Sack Boris Johnson and reshuffle cabinet, senior Tories to tell May

      Theresa May must sack Boris Johnson and shake up her cabinet if she is to reassert her authority and silence talk of a leadership plot in the wake of this week’s calamitous party conference, Conservative MPs will tell her.

      Few backbenchers were willing to give their public backing on Friday to Grant Shapps, the former party chairman who emerged as the prime mover behind a bid to gather enough MPs to convince the prime minister to step down.

    • Trump approval hits record-low 32 percent in AP poll

      President Trump’s approval rating has sunk to a new low in a new Associated Press/NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey.

      Thirty-two percent of Americans polled said they approved of Trump’s handling of his job in office nine months into his presidency, while 67 percent of those polled said they disapproved.

      The president’s approval rating in the poll is down from 42 percent in March and 35 percent in June.

    • Green Party conference: Brexit and Grenfell Tower on agenda

      Like the Lib Dems, SNP and UKIP, the Greens saw their vote share fall in the 2017 general election, as 82% of voters backed the Conservatives or Labour.

      The party got 1.6% of the vote, down on the 3.8% it got in 2015, although it retained its Brighton Pavilion seat.
      The party’s co-leader Jonathan Bartley, who will give a speech on Monday, said the Greens would say “things others won’t” – including on Brexit.

    • President Zigzag

      Trump essentially pulled the rug out from under the intermediaries by insulting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man,” threatening to “totally destroy” Kim’s nation of 25 million people, and calling for regime change in Iran. Trump’s bluster on Sept. 19 also deepened internal tensions with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who was privately supporting the secret diplomacy.

    • Who’s Really in Charge of the Voting Fraud Commission?

      On Friday, in response to a judge’s order, the Department of Justice released data showing the authors, recipients, timing, and subject lines of a group of emails sent to and from the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. They show that in the weeks before the commission issued a controversial letter requesting sweeping voter data from the states, co-chair Kris Kobach and the commission’s staff sought the input of Hans von Spakovsky and J. Christian Adams on “present and future” state data collection, and attached a draft of the letter for their review — at a moment when neither had yet been named to the commission.

      The commission’s letter requesting that data has been by far its most significant action since its formation in May — and was widely considered a fiasco. It sparked bipartisan criticism and multiple lawsuits. Yesterday, a state court blocked the state of Texas from handing over its data due to privacy concerns.

      The involvement by Adams and von Spakovsky, both Republicans, in drafting the letter even before they were nominated to the commission shows their influence. Von Spakovsky previously raised eyebrows after documents from February showed him lobbying against the inclusion of Democrats on the commission.

    • The Resident Evil

      At last, we know what it takes to bump RussiaGate off of MSDNC for a few hours: three deadly hurricanes and a mass shooting with nearly 600 victims. Trump took advantage of this lull in his prime-time persecution to publicly scold the distressed people of Puerto Rico for their alleged profligacy and indolence, before turning his consolatory ministrations toward the bloodbath in Las Vegas. The theologian-in-chief advised the appalled national audience that this was an act of “pure” and “unspeakable evil”—unspeakable, one presumes, because to name the evil would require him to face the specific evil at work in real terms, define the conditions which hatched it and punish the institutions that profit from its existence. Better politically to keep the precise nature of the “evil” in Vegas vague and eschatological.

      Just as I braced myself at the thought of Donald Trump launching into a moral homily on the evils of violence, the president shifted gears, offering a brisk psychological profile of the shooter as a “sick” and “deranged” man, a psycho who had managed to stockpile an arsenal of 49 guns of varying calibers and killing capacities and enough explosives to blow a hole in Hoover Dam. I must admit this prospect was not especially reassuring to me, but Trump seemed intent on making the point that the shooting rampage was not the work of a normal man. The nation could rest easy. The shootings in Las Vegas had nothing to tell us about the devolving nature of the American character.

    • Rex Tillerson at the Breaking Point

      One afternoon in late September, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called a meeting of the six countries that came together in 2015 to limit Iran’s nuclear-weapons program. They gathered on the main floor of the United Nations headquarters, in Manhattan, in the “consultations room,” a private chamber where diplomats can speak confidentially before stepping onto the floor of the Security Council. Tillerson, who was the head of ExxonMobil before becoming President Trump’s top diplomat, had not previously met Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, who negotiated the agreement with the Obama Administration. Tillerson’s career had been spent making deals for oil, and his views on such topics as Iran’s nuclear weapons were little known. Even more obscure were his skills as a diplomat.

      Sitting at a U-shaped table, Tillerson let the other diplomats—representatives of Germany, France, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and Iran—speak first. When Zarif’s turn came, he read a list of complaints about the Trump Administration and its European partners. The nuclear deal had called for the removal of economic sanctions against Iranian banks, but, he said, the United States had not yet lifted them. “We still cannot open a bank account in the U.K.,” he said.

    • Caroline Lucas: Theresa May Quitting Cannot Solve Tories’ Brexit Catastrophe

      Theresa May stepping down as prime minister would not solve the Tories’ “Brexit catastrophe”, according to Parliament’s only Green MP.

      Caroline Lucas said May’s disastrous party conference speech must have been “an excruciating experience”, but that her resignation – being called for by a number of Conservative MPs, led by former party chairman Grant Shapps – would fail to address any problems.

      Speaking to HuffPost UK ahead of the Greens’ annual conference, which kicks off this weekend, Lucas said: “On a personal level my heart goes out to her, in the sense that it was clearly an excruciating experience that you wouldn’t wish on anybody. Having said that, the real disaster of that speech was not the prime minister’s cough, but more what was in the speech and a complete failure to address the overwhelmingly important issues of the day.

    • Get Involved With the Fight to Restore America’s Voting Rights

      The wave of voter suppression measures accelerated after the 2010 elections, with politicians enacting new laws that made it more difficult to register to vote and curtailed access to the ballot box. This effort got a boost from the Trump administration, which launched its own attacks on voting rights. Following President Trump’s baseless claim that 3 to 5 million people committed voter fraud during the 2016 election, the administration created the sham Pence-Kobach commission to push for restrictive voting laws.

    • America’s Hypocrisy on Democracy

      The U.S. government explicitly mentioned the specter of “one man, one vote, one time” in condoning in 1992 the Algerian military’s cancellation of the second round of a legislative election that the Islamic Salvation Front, which had won a plurality in the first round, was poised to win. The military’s intervention touched off a vicious civil war in which hundreds of thousands of Algerians died.

      History has indeed offered examples of rulers coming to power through democratic means and then clinging to power through undemocratic means. Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany only after his Nazi Party had won pluralities in two successive free elections in 1932. But there is no reason to associate such scenarios with Islamists more so than with parties of other ideological persuasions.

      A relevant modern data point is Tunisia, the one Arab country in which democracy took hold as a result of the Arab Spring. The Islamist Ennahdha Party won a free election in 2011 and formed a government but willingly stepped down in 2014 after it lost much of its public support, very much in the mold of how governments in parliamentary democracies in the West vacate office after losing the public’s confidence.

    • Losses at Trump’s Scottish resorts doubled last year

      Donald Trump boasts of making great deals, but a financial report filed with the British government shows he has lost millions of dollars for three years running on a couple of his more recent big investments: his Scottish golf resorts.

      A report from Britain’s Companies House released late Friday shows losses last year at the two resorts more than doubled to 17.6 million pounds ($23 million). Revenue also fell sharply.

      In the report, Trump’s company attributed the results partly to having shut down its Turnberry resort for half the year while building a new course there and fixing up an old one.

    • Russian Journalist Masha Gessen on Trump & Putin’s Autocracy and Media’s Refusal to Call Out Lies

      As the Senate Intelligence Committee says Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, we discuss Russia and Trump with Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen. Her new book, “The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia,” has just been shortlisted for the National Book Award and offers a warning to the United States today as she points to the similarities between Trump and Putin, and warns of the threat of autocracy under a Trump presidency.

    • The Madness of Donald Trump

      He said monstrous things and lied with stunning disinhibition, and when the civilized world recoiled in horror, he seemed to take sadistic pleasure in every minute – win or lose, the run was pure glory for him, a Sherman’s March of taboo politics and testosterone fury that would leave a mark on America forever.

      There was one more thing. Candidate Trump may have been crazy, but it was craziness that on some level was working. Even at his lowest and most irrational moments – like his lunatic assault on the family of fallen soldier Humayun Khan, in which he raved to the grieving Gold Star parents about how it was he, Trump, who had “made a lot of sacrifices” – you could argue, if you squinted really hard, that it was strategy, a kick to the base.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Why does Britain want to put the public in prison for fact-checking claims in the mainstream media?

      British Home Secretary Amber Rudd has announced a fifteen-year prison sentence for watching terrorist propaganda, whatever that means this week. There is an exception for academics and journalists with “legitimate reason” to watch the material firsthand. But this also means the general public is going to be banned, under threat of a long prison sentence, from fact-checking such stories in the mainstream media.

    • The Many Problems With the Trump Administration’s Plan to Hold on to Some Immigrants’ Social Media Posts

      The policy is another part of Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda.

      The Department of Homeland Security recently issued a public notice that, among other things, indicates the department has expanded the records it retains in immigrants’ files to include “social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results.” Following initial media reporting on the notice, we’ve been hearing from green card holders and naturalized citizens who are worried that DHS will now be monitoring their social media use on an ongoing basis.

      That’s not what the notice announces, but it is cause for concern. To understand what the notice means for immigrants, it’s important to start with where it came from. DHS issued it under the Privacy Act, which applies only to citizens and lawful permanent residents, and which requires the government to issue notices like this one when it modifies “systems of records” — i.e., databases with information that could be used to identify individuals.

    • Podcasts Explore Academic Censorship in China

      While efforts to censor Western publications can be thwarted by the publications themselves, as they were by the Journal of Asian Studies, the situation is much more restrictive for Chinese researchers. Starting in 2014, the Party escalated a campaign against Western values in Chinese universities, imposing restrictions on curriculum and requiring “ideological oversight” of teaching staff. Jane Puckett, who is on the executive committee of the China Quarterly, has called on international universities to beware of increasing censorship within China. Holly Else reports for Times Higher Education…

    • University of Wisconsin approves protest punishment policy

      University of Wisconsin System leaders approved a policy Friday that calls for suspending and expelling students who disrupt campus speeches and presentations, saying students need to listen to all sides of issues and arguments.

      The Board of Regents adopted the language on a voice vote during a meeting at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie. The policy states that students found to have twice engaged in violence or other disorderly conduct that disrupts others’ free speech would be suspended. Students found to have disrupted others’ free expression three times would be expelled.

      “Perhaps the most important thing we can do as a university is to teach students how to engage and listen to those with whom they differ,” system President Ray Cross told the regents. “If we don’t show students how to do this, who will? Without civil discourse and a willingness to listen and engage with different voices, all we are doing is reinforcing our existing values.”

    • Big Canadian ISP is actually asking the Canadian Government for Internet censorship

      Bell Canada, one of Canada’s major ISPs, is requesting the Canadian government to create a governmental censorship regime, blacklisting resources that Canadians shall not be reading. According to Bell Canada, this is necessary to “prevent people from leaving regulated television and turning to piracy instead”. It is not explained how leaving the regulated TV system, or forcing new services onto the market by turning to unlicensed distribution, is a bad thing in itself.

    • Britain announces 15 years in prison for reading banned literature

      British lawmakers have announced 15 years in prison for taking part of banned literature. However, the threat of prison only covers new story formats that lawmakers think don’t deserve the same kind of protection as old-fashioned books: it’s only people who watch video on the Internet who will be put in prison, and only when they watch something that promotes terrorism, whatever that means this week.

    • Bethesda: Anti-Nazi game wasn’t meant to “incite political discussions”

      Bethesda, publisher of the upcoming shooting game Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, has issued a formal response to decidedly informal (and largely anonymous) criticisms surrounding the anti-Nazi game. In doing so, however, the company has made the curious decision to try to absolve itself of particularly political overtones.

    • Netizen Report: LGBT People Face Online Censorship and Threats in Egypt, Jordan

      Egypt’s broadcast regulator, the Supreme Council for Media Regulation, has banned all forms of support to the LGBTQ community, allegedly to “maintain public order”. The move came after a rainbow flag was raised at a concert of the Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila in Cairo on 22 September. The band supports LGBTQ rights and its lead singer Hamed Sinno is openly gay.

      Egyptian authorities arrested dozens of concert goers and have since launched a criminal investigation into the incident.

    • Alibaba’s censorship for sex toys is AMAZE-BALLS
    • Fears of censorship grow as Facebook begins ‘human review’ of potentially sensitive ads

      Facebook says it will begin manually reviewing advertisements that target certain groups and address politics, religion, ethnicity and social issues.

      The company has informed some advertisers about the new “human review” requirement, warning them that it might cause delays before their ads can appear on the social media platform.

    • Censorship attempts typically will backfire

      I don’t think people should ever tell anyone else what to read or what to think (“Parents: Remove book from reading list,” Reading Eagle, Sept. 26). The best way to sell a book is to say that it shouldn’t be read. I am 82 and well past the age where it matters, but I had never read “The Handmaid’s Tale.” I just ordered my copy from Amazon.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Amber Rudd knows nothing about encryption, says Amber Rudd

      Speaking at the Conservative Party conference earlier this week the UK home secretary, Amber Rudd, stated that she didn’t need to “understand how encryption works to understand how it’s helping the criminals.” She does, however, need to understand how backdooring encryption would disadvantage perfectly legitimate businesses and potentially cost them dearly.

      With such things as the EU General Data Protection Regulation coming into play in May next year, and the UK Data Protection Bill already progressing through Parliament, encryption is a topic that will not be going away. It’s vital that businesses not only know under what circumstances encryption should be implemented, but also understand the how such encryption gels with the regulatory compliance process. That Rudd is, in effect, muddying the waters with demands for technical solutions to enable encryption to be broken on demand is unhelpful to say the least.

    • Smart jewelry tested: do beautiful devices have the brains to compete?

      I tested out a few of these pieces of smart jewelry to see if their fashion sense, combined with their tech chops, really set them apart from their traditional wearable counterparts.

    • On encryption, the UK sets a collision course with Europe

      Is encryption a threat to law and order, or an essential tool for staying secure online? Two events this week show how much disagreement there still is about it.

      First, at a meeting at the Conservative party conference earlier this week the UK’s home secretary Amber Rudd said technology experts had been “patronising” and “sneering” at politicians who try to regulate their industry.

    • Face scans at the border to keep track of EU migrants after Brexit

      A controversial requirement to fingerprint EU nationals who want to work in the UK after Brexit has been dropped from a forthcoming immigration white paper.

      Instead ministers will require EU visitors to the UK to their faces scanned if they want to stay and work in the UK, The Sunday Telegraph can disclose.

      The news will ease concerns of critics that EU nationals might feel they were being criminalised if they were finger printed for trying to work legally in the UK.

    • The Israeli algorithm criminalizing Palestinians for online dissent

      The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) arrest of West Bank human rights defender Issa Amro for a Facebook post last month is the latest in the the PA’s recent crackdown on online dissent among Palestinians. Yet it’s a tactic long used by Israel, which has been monitoring social media activity and arresting Palestinians for their speech for years – and has recently created a computer algorithm to aid in such oppression.

      Since 2015, Israel has detained around 800 Palestinians because of content they wrote or shared online, mainly posts that are critical of Israel’s repressive policies or share the reality of Israeli violence against Palestinians. In the majority of these cases, those detained did not commit any attack; mere suspicion was enough for their arrest.

    • Treasury’s IG probing illegal surveillance allegations
    • 58 Human Rights and Civil Liberties Organizations Demand an End to the Backdoor Search Loophole
    • Judge denies bond for accused NSA leaker
    • LinkNYC Improves Privacy Policy, Yet Problems Remain

      Since first appearing on the streets of New York City in 2016, LinkNYC’s free public Wi-Fi kiosks have prompted controversy. The initial version of the kiosks’ privacy policy was particularly invasive: it allowed for LinkNYC to store personal browser history, time spent on a particular website, and lacked clarity about how LinkNYC would handle government demands for user data, among others issues. While CityBridge, the private consortium administering the network, has thankfully incorporated welcome changes to its use policy, several problems unfortunately remain.

    • These 13 House Reps sponsored a bill to legalize mass surveillance on Americans and called it the USA Liberty Act

      Section 702 permits the warrant-less targeting of foreign targets located in international places, not on US soil. However, in practice, the mass surveillance has picked up US citizens data – and the NSA refuses to state how many Americans’ are caught up in this surveillance database. However, the USA Liberty Act would codify this mass surveillance. The USA Liberty Act is an affront on the average American’s intelligence – and is even worse than the “Restoring Internet Freedom” Act put forth by these 9 Senators.

    • National Security Agencies Are Evading Congressional Oversight

      Last week, federal officials from several spy agencies engaged in a full court press in Washington, spinning facts before media outlets, flooding Capitol Hill with lobbyists, and bringing lawmakers to the National Security Agency’s (NSA) Ft. Meade headquarters to feed them selective information about their unconstitutional mass surveillance activities. Predictably omitted from these conversations are the many Americans from across the political spectrum who have raised concerns, ranging from constitutional and commercial to security-related, that have rightfully dogged federal mass surveillance efforts since their revelations—not in official proceedings, but rather by whistleblowers—in 2005 and 2013.

      Rather than embrace bipartisan calls for long overdue and constitutionally necessary limits, executive officials have instead chosen to shoot the proverbial messengers, vilifying whistleblowers and building new programs to prevent others from ever coming forward. Last week’s meetings included claims that particular examples of mass surveillance proved useful, ignoring its repeated failures. While the appearance of security may be comforting to some, NSA veterans have identified discarded programs that, relative to their replacements, reportedly did a better job of protecting national security while also protecting the privacy of Americans by encrypting data collected within the U.S. and requiring a warrant for investigators to access it.

    • Kaspersky denies involvement in alleged Russian NSA breach

      Security firm Kaspersky Lab has soundly denied claims that its software was used by the Russian government to steal confidential documents belonging to a contractor of the US National Security Agency.

    • NSA breach leads to theft of government spy software
    • California won’t require Uber, Lyft drivers to be fingerprinted

      California regulators won’t require ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft to get fingerprinted as part of their background checks to operate in the Golden State. Taxi drivers, however, must be fingerprinted in California.

      The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which regulates the ride-hailing industry, said that “after much consideration and debate,” criminal background checks on drivers that don’t include fingerprint checks are all that will be required, and those checks must be done by an accredited company and performed annually.

    • Judge Denies Bail for Reality Winner, Accepting Prosecutor’s Dubious Allegations

      ON THURSDAY, A FEDERAL judge denied a second request for bail from Reality Winner, a former National Security Agency contractor accused of violating the Espionage Act, despite an admission from the federal prosecutor in charge of the case that the government relied on false information in Winner’s initial bail hearing.

      In his decision denying bail, Judge Brian Epps did not acknowledge or reference the prosecutor’s false statements, despite the statement having been a principal reason the defense moved for the renewed hearing.

      The fight over whether Winner should be released pending trial stemmed from her bail hearing shortly after she was indicted in June. Winner was initially denied bail partly on the basis of alleged jailhouse recordings that suggested she may have other classified documents that she wanted to make public.

    • Russian Hackers Pilfered Data from NSA Contractor’s Home Computer: Report
    • US security secrets reportedly stolen in Russian NSA hack
    • Wall Street Journal Reporter Says Vital Information Was Exposed In NSA Breach

      NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly speaks with writer Shane Harris, one of the journalists who broke the story of the major security breach at the National Security Agency for the Wall Street Journal.

    • NSA: There’s a New Normal on the Nation-State Front

      The NCTOC’s primary mission is defending the non-classified US Department of Defense (DoD) network and its 2.9 million users that are spread everywhere from office buildings in DC to battlegrounds in Afghanistan. It also works hand-in-hand with US Cyber Command to protect other federal agencies, including the Departments of Energy and Homeland Security. The group also is in the process of moving to an integrated cyber-center that will house 250 people. “We’re talking six-foot walls and the whole nine,” said Hogue. “It will be the center of the universe for how we defend cyber.”

      [...]

      As to the former, he said that the US government network rejects 85% of the emails that it receives on a daily basis. “90% of intrusions we see come from phishing, whaling and spear phishing, and it’s just a relentless barrage of emails. It still works,” Hogue said.

    • Forget Kaspersky Labs, it’s the NSA that sucks at security
    • Privacy of Web Request API
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Sheriff, Deputies Indicted After Subjecting Entire High School To Invasive Pat Downs

      According to school policies, students may be searched if there’s reasonable suspicion the student is in possession of an illegal item. The same rules apply to law enforcement, but they were ignored here. Sheriff Hobby claimed he could search any student he wanted to (in this case, all of them) simply because he was accompanied by a school administrator.

    • Ga. student in massive school drug search felt ‘sexually violated’
    • Ga. sheriff indicted for sexual battery in high school drug search

      A south Georgia grand jury indicted Worth County Sheriff Jeff Hobby on Tuesday for sexual battery, false imprisonment and violation of oath of office after he ordered a school-wide search of hundreds of high school students. Deputies allegedly touched girls vaginas and breasts and groped boys in their groin area during the search at the Worth County High School April 14.

      Two of Hobby’s deputies were also indicted Tuesday in connection with the case.

      The controversial search drew national attention because of how the body search of students was conducted under the guise of a drug search, but produced no drugs or arrests.

    • The House Is Moving Along a Bill Worth $10 Billion That Would Fund Trump’s ‘Big, Beautiful’ Wall and Expand His Deportation Force

      A House committee advanced a bill yesterday that will only make the unconstitutional abuses at our borders worse.

      Last month, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics concluded “the southwest land border is more difficult to illegally cross today than ever before.” Between 2000 and 2016, Border Patrol apprehensions declined by 72 percent. The decline has been so significant that the average border agent is catching about one migrant per month. Despite this, there are thousands more Border Patrol agents now than even 10 years ago, as the force more than doubled after 9/11 to over 21,000 authorized personnel today.

      The fact of the matter is that U.S. border security is more than adequate, unless you’re a Republican member of Congress that is.

    • NYT Reveals Decades of Sexual Harassment Accusations Against Harvey Weinstein
    • Bishop Cantu Reiterates Call To Pentagon To Close Guantanamo Bay Prison

      Moral and financial reasons require the Pentagon to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace reiterated in a letter to the secretary of defense.

      Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, also said in an Oct. 3 letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis that any of the 41 remaining detainees who have been cleared of charges should be transferred to new host countries and that no new detainees should be assigned to the prison.

      The bishop called for the continuation of periodic review of the cases of the detainees who remain, saying “indefinite detention without trial is also inhumane.”

    • Swedish model gets rape threats after ad shows her unshaved legs

      A Swedish model says she has received rape threats for posing in an advertisement with unshaved legs.

      Arvida Byström, who is also a photographer and digital artist, appears in a video and photograph promoting Adidas Originals’ Superstar range. Byström, who has described the norm for women to shave as “fucked”, has hairy legs in the images and says she has faced a vicious backlash as a result.

      She wrote on Instagram: “Me being such an abled, white, cis body with its only nonconforming feature being a lil leg hair. Literally I’ve been getting rape threats in my DM inbox. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to not possess all these privileges and try to exist in the world. Sending love and try to remember that not everybody has the same experiences being a person.”

    • These Photos Plunge You Into the Inner Madness of Guantánamo

      Debi Cornwall’s Welcome to Camp America: Inside Guantánamo Bay (Radius Books) is an exhaustively researched, exceptionally photographed documentation of one the most heavily guarded prisons in the world. The way in which photographs, interviews, and government documents intersect and overlap in a multifaceted layout makes the physical book itself becomes important to the narrative. As Cornwalls says, the fold-over pages and other layout elements invite the reader to either “take what is given or choose to dig a little deeper.” It’s rare to find a photobook in which the book doesn’t just act as an outlet, but actually amplifies the power of the work within.

    • Why students are ignorant about the Civil Rights Movement

      The Civil Rights Movement was once a footnote in Mississippi social studies classrooms, if it was covered at all. Then, in 2011, Mississippi became a “model” for other states when new social studies standards set an expectation that students learn civil rights in depth.
      But despite those new expectations, most school districts in the state where the 1955 lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till mobilized black Americans still use textbooks that give local civil rights milestones short shrift.

    • How A Bond Hearing Saved Me From Deportation

      Before Jennings, people fighting deportation could be detained indefinitely while they defend their rights to remain in the United States. This includes lawful permanent residents like me; asylum seekers and survivors of torture; the parents of young children who are citizens; and even citizens who are wrongly classified as immigrants. Many go on to win their deportation cases, which means their detention was completely unnecessary.

    • We’re Challenging Muslim Ban 3.0, Which Is Just More of the Same

      President Trump signed the third version of his Muslim ban executive order on Sept. 24, about two weeks before the case involving the second version of the ban was to be argued before the Supreme Court. This action led the court to cancel oral arguments on the earlier version so that the parties could address whether the new order renders the Trump administration’s appeal moot.

      In the meantime, the ACLU has returned to the federal district court to challenge the new order, which is set to go into effect on Oct. 18.

      The new ban indefinitely bans people from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia, five overwhelmingly Muslim countries that were also targeted by the earlier versions. The order emphasizes that countries are being banned because they have not cooperated in providing information for visa vetting. Yet Somalia remains banned even though it does live up to the government’s new visa cooperation standards.

    • 112 CASE MOVES FORWARD AGAINST HISTORIAN FOR DOUBTING 16TH CENTURY ‘ELEPHANT DUEL’

      A famed social critic and intellectual elder accused of defaming the monarchy by questioning whether a royal elephant battle really happened four centuries ago said he’s been ordered to appear before military prosecutors.

      Sulak Sivaraksa, 84, said Thursday night that he’s been told to report Monday morning to police who will take him to a military court to meet with prosecutors preparing a case against him for allegedly criticizing a king who reigned from 1590 to 1605.

    • The Importance of Training Teachers to Better Understand Their Native Students

      Native American students make up 1.4 percent of the students in Washington state public schools. And they have the lowest graduation rate of any ethnic group, with just 56.4 percent earning a high school diploma in four years.

      “I was that young person, I dropped out of school. I was one of those statistics of Native women dropouts,” says Dawn Hardison-Stevens, who is a member of the Steilacoom Tribal Council.

      Hardison-Stevens, who at the time was a young mother with a 3-year-old and a newborn, says that a school counselor convinced her to get a high school diploma rather than just a GED. That extra push led her to pursue college, then graduate school, and then eventually to where she is today—working as program manager of the Native Education Certificate Program at the University of Washington.

    • Why the Harvey Weinstein Sexual-Harassment Allegations Didn’t Come Out Until Now

      His behavior toward women was obviously understood to be a bad thing—this was a decade after Anita Hill’s accusations against Clarence Thomas had helped the country to understand that sexual harassment was not just a quirk of the modern workplace, but a professional and economic crime committed against women as a class. But the story felt fuzzier, harder to tell about Harvey: the notion of the “casting couch” still had an almost romantic reverberation, and those who had encountered Weinstein often spoke of the conviction that they would never be believed.

    • Spain: how a democratic country can silence its citizens

      Yet the authorities’ response to the protests has been characterised by unnecessary and excessive force. They have fined participants and organisers, harassed, stigmatised and imprisoned ordinary people on criminal charges and introduced legislation that imposes additional restrictions on the freedom of peaceful assembly.

      Sadly, the organisers of protests and the participants face many challenges when trying to gather peacefully and express their views to those they voted into power. First of all, a gathering or demonstration with more than 20 people requires prior notification to the authorities, in writing and at least 10 days in advance—Spanish legislation doesn’t allow for spontaneous demonstrations.

    • British tourist faces jail in Dubai after brushing against man in bar

      A British tourist is facing a three-year jail sentence in Dubai after putting his hand out in a bar to stop himself spilling his drink and touching a man’s hip, according to his representatives.

      Campaign group Detained in Dubai said Jamie Harron, from Stirling, central Scotland, was arrested for public indecency. Harron is said to have since lost his job and has spent more than £30,000 in expenses and legal fees, having already been stuck in the country for three months.

    • Arizona man receives death threats for handing in guns to police

      A Phoenix man who posted pictures on Facebook giving his guns over to local police says he received multiple death threats after the post went viral. The original post, which has since been deleted, showed 36-year-old Jonathan Pring posing with his tactical rifle, then handing a bag of guns to the officer.

      Pring, a dual citizen of the US and Britain, said he wanted to make a change after the shooting deaths of 58 people in Las Vegas on October 1. The post is still circulating around Facebook, garnering more threats from people who say Pring should be shot and some who shared his home address to the social media site, according to the Phoenix New Times.

    • As Jeff Sessions Guts Federal Oversight of Policing, It Opens the Door for Long-Needed Local Oversight

      It’s time to demand that state and local prosecutors step up when it comes to monitoring police actions and practices.

      As President Trump spends his time denigrating black NFL players and their allies who are protesting police brutality, racial inequity, and a broken criminal justice system, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is working hard to make these problems even worse.

      Earlier this month, Sessions ended a federal police oversight program widely shown to be effective in curbing abusive policing. That follows Sessions’ announcement earlier this year that he was reexamining all Obama-era agreements between the Justice Department and troubled police departments, a move widely expected to result in the termination of these agreements or to render them toothless by refusing to enforce them.

    • Are Mexicans Indigenous?

      As many US states and municipalities have begun to eschew the colonial tradition of “Columbus Day” in favor of adopting Monday’s holiday as “Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” one might wonder where people of Mexican heritage fit in.

    • White and black men legally openly carry assault rifle down US streets — but police reactions are very different

      A social experiment has shown how police react to a white man and black man legally carrying an assault rifle along an American street.

      In the film by left-wing political organisation Occupy Democrats, a white man is seen carrying a semi-automatic AR-15.

      A police officer then approaches the man, named as Warren at the start of the film, and asks to see his ID.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • FCC will allow Alphabet’s Project Loon to deliver air balloon LTE to Puerto Rico

      The Federal Communications Commission yesterday granted Alphabet-owned Project Loon an experimental license to operate in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands for the purpose of helping the islands regain connectivity. The license extends from October 6th until April 4th, 2018, and it was granted to Ben Wojtowicz, a software engineer and member of Alphabet’s X lab who works on Project Loon.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Trademarks
      • Salt Lake Comic Con Fights Back Against Judge’s ‘Unprecedented’ Gag Order

        As you will recall, the trademark dispute between the San Diego Comic Convention and the Salt Lake Comic Con is now in full swing. Thus far, the action has been somewhat strange, with the SLCC getting some pushback from the court based on what looks to be a flipflopping of exactly what defense it is claiming. That flipflopping has mostly amounted to varied claims by SLCC, run by Dan Farr Productions, that San Diego Comicon trademark for “comicon” was either generic at the time it was granted the mark or has become generic since being granted the mark. Due to that, Judge Anthony Battaglia has allowed the jury trial to move forward instead of issuing a judgment. But before he did so, Battaglia also issued a somewhat strange gag order on the Salt Lake Comic Con, prohibiting it from putting information about the case on its website, engaging the press regarding the trial, and even requiring Dan Farr Productions to put a disclaimer on its website about the injunction. At the time, we wrote that the gag order seemed strange and likely a violation of First Amendment rights.

    • Copyrights
      • Defending Users in NAFTA 2.0: Who Are We Up Against?

        After three rounds of negotiations, with a fourth coming up fast, we are still in the early days of NAFTA 2.0. In particular, the fight over copyright in NAFTA is just beginning, with the United States submitting its opening bid for the Intellectual Property chapter just last week.

        What does that bid look like? It’s hard to say, because the negotiation process is opaque and exclusionary. But even with what little information we have, we can already identify some of the key protagonists in this unfolding battle, and some of the positions that they have been lobbying their governments to adopt.

        [...]

        Unfortunately, it does seem that the USTR has taken the music industry letter to heart. The initial draft IP chapter did not include a provision on balanced copyright limitations and exceptions such as fair use, despite the inclusion of such a provision in the previous trade agreement that it negotiated, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). And although the ISP safe harbor provision was not omitted altogether, its inclusion was in the form of placeholder text only, suggesting that the USTR does intend to make changes to the TPP’s rules on that topic.

      • Students Overwhelmingly Vote Pirate Party in Simulated “General Election”

        People in Need, a nonprofit that implements educational and human rights programs in crisis zones, has just released the results of a rather interesting project. After polling more than 40,000 Czech students aged 15 and above in a simulated general election, the local Pirate Party booked a decisive victory.

Thugs United: Francis Gurry Lecture, Courtesy of Benoît Battistelli

Sunday 8th of October 2017 11:08:52 AM

Law school featuring talks from (and in honour of) people who break the national law and then claim immunity

Summary: On the black comedy which is a lecture in a law school delivered by one who shows flagrant disregard for the law (and named after another)

What does it say about a law school when it invites and honours people who break the law? That certainly brings back memories of last month’s Harvard debacle.

The University of Melbourne Law School says that “Mr Benoît Battistelli will be presenting the Francis Gurry Lecture on Intellectual Property on Wednesday 18 October 2017 on the topic “The European Patent System: Serving the Global Economy”.”

“Do they know much about Battistelli? Have they researched his background before inviting him to a law school?”“In this year’s Lecture,” says another page, “the President of the EPO will explain these developments and explore their implications and benefits for Australian innovators.”

Do they know much about Battistelli? Have they researched his background before inviting him to a law school?

Both Battistelli and Gurry are governing like dictators who boast their utter disregard for the law and/or their immunity. For a law school to invite a person with such a terrible record when it comes to obeying the law is an utter disgrace. And to honour or name the lecture after another? Just because he’s Australian?

Patent Microcosm, Patent Media and Patent Office: “It’s a Big Club and You Ain’t in It”

Sunday 8th of October 2017 10:22:01 AM

To use the famous saying from George Carlin

Summary: When the national patent law is constructed behind closed doors by a cabal of lawyers and few opportunists who attempt to justify their own existence rather than represent the innovators who they claim to be “protecting”

THE world has plenty of conflicting interests. The war industry, for instance, has a tremendous leverage over foreign policy. This would probably surprise nobody, but the same is true at the USPTO and the patent ‘industry’. Just look at their echo chamber-type events. Nowadays, it’s almost an accident if an actual engineer has a say on the subjects debated (sometimes they let some lawyer of massive corporations have a say).

What about judges? Well, they too are typically former lawyers.

And watch how Dennis Crouch categorises them (just before the weekend): “Chief Judge Prost, Judge Taranto and Judge Hughes – would not be identified as overly pro-patentee.”

Well, as if they fall into a category. At least he didn’t use a term like “anti-patents” or “anti-innovation” as Watchtroll likely would. Watchtroll has already called for the firing of one of their colleagues. Here is what Crouch wrote:

On appeal, the Federal Circuit has vacated the injunction – holding that the district court made reversible errors with regard to written description and enablement. Before walking through the decision, I’ll note here that the Federal Circuit panel here – made up of Chief Judge Prost, Judge Taranto and Judge Hughes – would not be identified as overly pro-patentee.

The problem is that many people read sites like the above, as well as Watchtroll. They wrongly assume there’s insight there because of the profession, often forgetting that this profession attempts to perpetuate if not expand itself. So the bias is dyed in the wool.

Days ago Watchtroll was reposting that old press release that said “Bednarek began his career in the early 1980s as patent examiner at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, examining some of the first software patents granted by the agency.”

He is moving from public to private, just like the crooked David Kappos. We wrote about it exactly a week ago. Nowadays software patents are no longer recognised by courts, but the USPTO continues to grant these. PTAB, which is run by David Ruschke, knows all about Alice, but he too will be lobbied in another echo chamber-type event of IAM, according to this blog post from a few days ago. Does he know who is funding IAM? Does he really want to be associated with that? Also in that event there will be the person behind the STRONGER Patents Act — a bill which strives to do the very opposite of making patents stronger. It could be renamed the Patent Trolling Act. To quote IAM: “Among the outstanding faculty members are: Senator Chris Coons, co-sponsor of the STRONGER Patents Act introduced into the Senate earlier this year; Joseph Matal, acting head of the US Patent and Trademark Office; and David Ruschke, chief judge of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. They will be joining a number of other high-profile figures from the US patent community…”

The term “US patent community” just means the patent microcosm.

As we said a long time ago, IAM is in the business of lobbying and we know who it’s lobbying for; just follow the money.

Herein lies the key point. The media that covers patents, the patent ‘industry’ and the branch of government that deals with patents are all in the same bed. Their goal — unlike courts’ goal — is to just throw patents at everything. It cannot go on like this. That’s like putting companies that manufacture bombs in charge of foreign policy; obviously they would initiate war at any opportunity.

This is a real problem that more people ought to be speaking about. Such an incestuous relationship reveals disturbing lack of separation, maybe even collusion.

The other day IAM spoke to some law firms about patent policy. Here is what one firm from Malaysia said about software patents:

To what extent can inventions covering software or computer-implemented inventions be patented?

It is possible to protect software-related inventions in Malaysia, provided that these meet the statutory definition of an ‘invention’ (ie, an idea that solves a technical problem). Data processing which involves no technical effect or advance does not constitute a patentable invention. Software inventions which are construed as business methods are not patentable, as business methods are excluded from patentability.

According to MyIPO’s patent examination guidelines, claims directed to a computer program per se or a computer program embodied on a carrier, regardless of its content, are not allowed. A computer program may be patentable if the claimed subject matter makes a technical contribution to the art (eg, program-controlled machines or program-controlled manufacturing processes).

According to this, the rules in Malaysia are somewhat similar to what happens in the EPO. The End Software Patents (ESP) campaign said (back in 2010) that “Malaysia Section 13(1)(a) of the Malaysian Patents Act 1983 excludes from patentable subject matter “discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods” and paragraph (c) excludes “schemes, rules or methods for doing business, performing purely mental acts or playing games”.”

As we showed many times before, national policies on patents (in various patent offices) are often put together by the patent ‘industry’ and are influenced by their lobbyists. As soon as public officials find out about public views (the stance of those impacted by these laws) they correct these laws, as Australia recently did.

Battistelli’s Club Med at the EPO – Part VII: Quo Vadis EPO?

Sunday 8th of October 2017 09:19:49 AM

Summary: An analysis of a shift in the EPO and what motivates this shift, which likely dooms decades of EPO excellence and integrity

THIS seventh part of the series is probably the most important one.

The EPO‘s deal with Angola was mentioned in part 1, parts 2, 3 and 4 looked more closely at Angola and in parts 5 and 6 we looked again at Europe. Now it’s back to the EPO. We’ll wrap things up in the next (and final) part of this series.

At first glance, the revelations about Luso-Angolan and domestic Portuguese corruption networks may seem very remote from the EPO.

“Another point that should be kept in mind here is that the current master plan of “King” Battistelli aims at the installation of the “Dauphin” Campinos as his successor at the head of the EPO.”However, the lack of effective external oversight at the EPO means that bilateral “co-operation agreements” with countries such as Angola give rise to very real risks of a misuse of official funds.

The dubious dealings of WIPO’s Francis Gurry with North Korea and the general lack of accountability of international organisations provide an example that should set alarm bells ringing.

Another point that should be kept in mind here is that the current master plan of “King” Battistelli aims at the installation of the “Dauphin” Campinos as his successor at the head of the EPO.

The driving force behind this high-level political intrigue seems to be a Franco-Iberian axis led by the Corsican Battistelli, his faithful Spanish lieutenant Casado and a pair of Iberian “pet chinchillas” on the Administrative Council, namely the Director General of the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (Ms Patricia García-Escudero Márquez) and the Director of the Portuguese National Institute of Industrial Property (Maria Leonor Mendes Da Trindade).

“The driving force behind this high-level political intrigue seems to be a Franco-Iberian axis led by the Corsican Battistelli, his faithful Spanish lieutenant Casado and a pair of Iberian “pet chinchillas” on the Administrative Council…”The Franco-Iberian axis is said to be supported by a group of smaller Southern European states, including Monaco and San Marino, as well as a number of relatively recent EPC member states from Eastern Europe.

The close collusion between Battistelli, Casado and Campinos is reflected by their heavy involvement with the Spanish private university Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo (UIMP). They frequently turn up at UIMP events or feature as guest lecturers at seminars and conferences organised by the UIMP and Battistelli has even been awarded with an honorary doctorate from the UIMP.

By a curious coincidence in April 2016 both Casado and Campinos received awards from the Spanish government “for their dedication to the promotion and protection of IP rights”. On that occasion they appeared together for a photo-op with the Spanish PTO Director Mrs. García-Escudero Márquez. [Photo here showing Casado, Campinos as well as García-Escudero Márquez]

“The Franco-Iberian axis is said to be supported by a group of smaller Southern European states, including Monaco and San Marino, as well as a number of relatively recent EPC member states from Eastern Europe.”Casado who was Vice-President of the EU’s Intellectual Property Office in Alicante (formerly the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market – OHIM from 1994 to 2004 has recently been appointed as head of the new EPO Directorate-General Patent Granting Process.

Although he has largely remained in the shadows up until now, his new appointment as Willie Minnoye’s successor seems to confirm suspicions that Casado is a die-hard Battistelli loyalist who is destined to play a leading role during the last year of Battistelli’s presidency. It is speculated that one of his task is likely to be to prepare the EPO for the planned takeover of Campinos.

As far as Campinos is concerned it is worth noting that he is of Luso-Angolan ancestry. His father Jorge Campinos was born in Lobito in 1937 when Angola was still a Portuguese colony and it is a matter of historical record that Campinos Senior was involved with the Angolan MPLA during the colonial era in the 1960′s. Following Portuguese withdrawal from Angola in 1975, the MPLA became the dominant political party which has governed the country since independence. José Eduardo Dos Santos assumed the leadership of the MPLA in 1979.

“The close collusion between Battistelli, Casado and Campinos is reflected by their heavy involvement with the Spanish private university Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo (UIMP).”Given this background it could be useful to investigate what connections, if any, Campinos Junior might have to the key players in the contemporary circles of the post‑colonial Angolan elite as well as the domestic Portuguese networks exposed by Operation Marquis.

Regardless of what such investigations might or might not reveal one thing seems certain.

Battistelli’s plan to install Campinos as his successor — if it proves successful — will be likely to produce a shift of the EPO’s political centre of gravity southwards away from the “founder states” of North and Central Europe (U.K., Benelux, Germany and Switzerland) and towards the Mediterranean region.

The appointment of the EPO’s “first Portuguese President” is likely to be accompanied by frantic efforts to gloss over his strong French connections and shouts of acclamation by his fan club about progress towards “a more diverse EPO” (to quote Battistelli).

Looking at the levels of systemic high-level political corruption uncovered by official investigations such as Operation Gürtel in Spain and Operation Marquis in Portugal, it is questionable as to whether such a triumph for the Franco-Iberian axis would really be a cause for celebration.

“The appointment of the EPO’s “first Portuguese President” is likely to be accompanied by frantic efforts to gloss over his strong French connections…”It is interesting to note that compared to other EU member states the countries at the forefront of Battistelli’s “Club Med” have relatively poor rankings in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) published by Transparency International. According to the CPI 2016 out of a total of 176 states surveyed France was ranked at position 23, Portugal at 29 and Spain at 41.

Spain’s position in the 2016 CPI plummeted sharply as a result of the recent prominent corruption probes implicating both of the major political parties, the governing conservative Partido Popular and its main opposition the Socialist Party.

It will be interesting to see whether the revelations emerging from “Operation Marquis” will have a similar effect on Portugal’s rating in next year’s CPI.

“This struggle is reported to be between a group of states which supports Battistelli’s “Club Med” and a counter-bloc whose core is formed by the main EPC founder states including Germany, Netherlands, UK and Switzerland.”At the EPO some insiders are already talking about a power struggle or a “clash of civilisations” within the Administrative Council which is predicted to intensify in the coming months.

This struggle is reported to be between a group of states which supports Battistelli’s “Club Med” and a counter-bloc whose core is formed by the main EPC founder states including Germany, Netherlands, UK and Switzerland.

The role of France in all this is shrouded in uncertainty. It is reported that the Corsican Battstelli who is considered by many of his compatriots to be an international embarrassment for France does not enjoy the support of the new government under Emmanuel Macron (in spite of the ENA connection). It is also rumoured that those responsible for IP matters at governmental level are at best “lukewarm” about the prospect of Campinos as the next EPO President. But the official position of the French government is not yet known.

“It is also rumoured that those responsible for IP matters at governmental level are at best “lukewarm” about the prospect of Campinos as the next EPO President.”Whatever happens over the coming months, the outcome of this power struggle within the EPO’s Administrative Council is likely to determine the direction in which the organisation moves in the post-Battistelli era.

It may well be that future historians will view Battistelli’s presidency as a watershed era during which the old “historical” EPO with the sense of mission based on the vision of its “founding fathers” to serve European interests, uphold patent quality and respect the rule of law was gradually and surreptitiously replaced by a new “modern” EPO designed to serve the hidden “corporate” and “global” agendas of European political elites and their “business partners” in developing world kleptocracies such as Angola.

Additional Complaints About the Unitary Patent (UPC) Pile Up in Germany, Here’s How to Submit More

Saturday 7th of October 2017 10:57:48 PM

Summary: More complaints against the UPC are on their way, assuring further delays and possibly the complete scuttling of the whole thing

THE Unitary Patent is doomed. As we expected, additional complaints are there (or on their way). There’s more than three weeks left for further submissions. The EPO and Team UPC will obviously intervene (in favour), but we’re aware of motions against the UPC for judges to consider.

For anyone who is interested in submission of further complaints, here are the conditions for the imposition of a constitutional complaint. It’s based on a PDF in German.

Merkblatt über die Verfassungsbeschwerde zum Bundesverfassungsgericht

I. Allgemeines

Jedermann kann Verfassungsbeschwerde zum Bundesverfassungsgericht erheben, wenn er sich durch die öffentliche Gewalt in einem seiner Grundrechte (vgl. Art. 1 bis 19 GG) oder bestimmten grundrechtsgleichen Rechten (Art. 20 Abs. 4, Art. 33, 38, 101, 103, 104 GG) verletzt glaubt.

Das Bundesverfassungsgericht kann die Verfassungswidrigkeit eines Aktes der öffentlichen Gewalt feststellen, ein Gesetz für nichtig erklären oder eine verfassungswidrige Entscheidung aufheben und die Sache an ein zuständiges Gericht zurückverweisen.

Andere Entscheidungen kann das Bundesverfassungsgericht auf eine Verfassungsbeschwerde hin nicht treffen. Es kann z.B. weder Schadensersatz zuerkennen noch Maßnahmen der Straf- verfolgung einleiten. Der einzelne Staatsbürger hat grundsätzlich auch keinen mit der Verfassungsbeschwerde verfolgbaren Anspruch auf ein bestimmtes Handeln des Gesetzgebers.

Verfassungsbeschwerden gegen gerichtliche Entscheidungen führen nicht zur Überprüfung im vollen Umfang, sondern nur zur Nachprüfung auf verfassungsrechtliche Verstöße. Selbst wenn die Gestaltung des Verfahrens, die Feststellung und Würdigung des Sachverhalts, die Auslegung eines Gesetzes oder seine Anwendung auf den einzelnen Fall Fehler aufweisen sollten, bedeutet dies für sich allein nicht schon eine Grundrechtsverletzung.

II. Form und Inhalt der Verfassungsbeschwerde

Die Verfassungsbeschwerde ist schriftlich einzureichen und zu begründen (§ 23 Abs. 1, § 92 BVerfGG). Die Begründung muss mindestens folgende Angaben enthalten:

1. Der Hoheitsakt (gerichtliche Entscheidung, Verwaltungsakt, Gesetz), gegen den sich die Verfassungsbeschwerde richtet, muss genau bezeichnet werden (bei gerichtlichen Entscheidungen und Verwaltungsakten sollen Datum, Aktenzeichen und Tag der Verkündung bzw. des Zugangs angegeben werden).

2. Das Grundrecht oder grundrechtsgleiche Recht, das durch den angegriffenen Hoheitsakt verletzt sein soll, muss benannt oder jedenfalls seinem Rechtsinhalt nach bezeichnet werden.

3. Es ist darzulegen, worin im Einzelnen die Grundrechtsverletzung erblickt wird. Hierzu sind auch die mit der Verfassungsbeschwerde angegriffenen Gerichtsentscheidungen (einschließlich in Bezug genommener Schreiben), Bescheide usw. in Ausfertigung, Abschrift oder Fotokopie vorzulegen. Zumindest muss ihr Inhalt einschließlich der Begründung aus der Beschwerdeschrift ersichtlich sein.

4. Neben den angegriffenen Entscheidungen müssen auch sonstige Unterlagen aus dem Ausgangsverfahren (z.B. einschlägige Schriftsätze, Anhörungsprotokolle, Gutachten) vorgelegt (wie unter 3.) oder inhaltlich wiedergegeben werden, ohne deren Kenntnis nicht beurteilt werden kann, ob die in der Verfassungsbeschwerde erhobenen Rügen berechtigt sind.

5. Richtet sich die Verfassungsbeschwerde gegen behördliche und/oder gerichtliche Entscheidungen, so muss aus der Begründung auch ersichtlich sein, mit welchen Rechtsbehelfen, Anträgen und Rügen der Beschwerdeführer sich im Verfahren vor den Fachgerichten um die Abwehr des behaupteten Grundrechtsverstoßes bemüht hat. Dazu müssen die im fachgerichtlichen Verfahren gestellten Anträge und sonstigen Schriftsätze beigefügt (wie unter 3.) oder inhaltlich wiedergegeben werden.

III. Weitere Zulässigkeitsvoraussetzungen

1. Beschwerdefrist

Die Verfassungsbeschwerde gegen Entscheidungen der Gerichte und Behörden ist nur innerhalb eines Monats zulässig (§ 93 Abs. 1 Satz 1 BVerfGG). Auch die vollständige Begründung muss innerhalb dieser Frist eingereicht werden (§ 93 Abs. 1 Satz 1 BVerfGG); werden Informationen, die zu den Mindestanforderungen an die Begründung der Verfassungsbeschwerde (s. oben II.) gehören, erst nach Fristablauf unterbreitet, so ist die Verfassungsbeschwerde unzulässig. Eine Verlängerung der Frist durch das Gericht ist ausgeschlossen.

Konnte der Beschwerdeführer die Frist ohne Verschulden nicht einhalten, so kann binnen zwei Wochen nach Wegfall des Hindernisses Wiedereinsetzung in den vorigen Stand beantragt und die Verfassungsbeschwerde nachgeholt werden. Die Tatsachen zur Begründung des Antrags sind glaubhaft zu machen. Das Verschulden eines Verfahrensbevollmächtigten beider Fristversäumung steht dem Verschulden des Beschwerdeführers gleich (§ 93 Abs. 2 BVerfGG).

2. Erschöpfung des Rechtswegs

a) Allgemeines

Die Anrufung des Bundesverfassungsgerichts ist grundsätzlich nur und erst dann zulässig, wenn der Beschwerdeführer zuvor den Rechtsweg erschöpft und darüber hinaus die ihm zur Verfügung stehenden weiteren Möglichkeiten ergriffen hat, um eine Korrektur der geltend gemachten Verfassungsverletzung zu erreichen oder diese zu verhindern. Die Verfassungsbeschwerde ist unzulässig, wenn und soweit eine anderweitige Möglichkeit besteht oder bestand, die Grundrechtsverletzung zu beseitigen oder ohne Inanspruchnahme des Bundesverfassungsgerichts im praktischen Ergebnis dasselbe zu erreichen.

Vor Erhebung der Verfassungsbeschwerde müssen daher alle verfügbaren Rechtsbehelfe (z.B. Berufung, Revision, Beschwerde, Nichtzulassungsbeschwerde) genutzt worden sein. Die Erhebung einer Verfassungsbeschwerde zum Landesverfassungsgericht wird dagegen für eine zulässige Verfassungsbeschwerde zum Bundesverfassungsgericht nicht vorausgesetzt. Zu den Möglichkeiten, den geltend gemachten Grundrechtsverstoß schon im Verfahren vor den Fachgerichten abzuwehren, gehören auch: ausreichende Darstellung des relevanten Sachverhalts, geeignete Beweisanträge, Wiedereinsetzungsanträge bei unverschuldeter Fristversäumung u.ä. Eine Verfassungsbeschwerde ist daher nicht zulässig, soweit solche Möglichkeiten im fachgerichtlichen Verfahren nicht genutzt wurden.

b) Besonderheiten bei Gehörsrügen

Wird die Nichtgewährung rechtlichen Gehörs (Art. 103 Abs. 1 GG) gerügt, so ist, wenn gegen die angegriffene Entscheidung ein anderer Rechtsbehelf nicht gegeben ist, die Verfassungsbeschwerde nur zulässig, wenn zuvor versucht wurde, durch Einlegung einer Anhörungsrüge (insbesondere § 321a ZPO, § 152a VwGO, § 178a SGG, § 78a ArbGG, § 44 FamFG, § 133a FGO, §§ 33a, 356a StPO) bei dem zuständigen Fachgericht Abhilfe zu erreichen. Die Unzulässigkeit der Verfassungsbeschwerde beschränkt sich in einem solchen Fall regelmäßig nicht auf die behauptete Verletzung des Anspruchs auf rechtliches Gehör, sondern erfasst auch alle sonstigen Rügen.

c) Rechtssatzverfassungsbeschwerde

Gesetze, Rechtsverordnungen oder Satzungen können mit der Verfassungsbeschwerde nur ausnahmsweise unmittelbar angegriffen werden, und zwar dann, wenn sie den Beschwerdeführer selbst, gegenwärtig und unmittelbar beschweren. Die Verfassungsbeschwerde muss in diesem Fall binnen eines Jahres seit dem Inkrafttreten der Rechtsvorschrift erhoben werden (§ 93 Abs. 3 BVerfGG).

In der Regel bedürfen Rechtsvorschriften jedoch des Vollzuges, d.h. der Anwendung im einzelnen Fall durch eine behördliche oder gerichtliche Entscheidung, gegen die der Betroffene den Rechtsweg vor den zuständigen Gerichten erschöpfen muss. In aller Regel ist die Verfassungsbeschwerde daher in solchen Fällen erst nach der Entscheidung des letztinstanzlichen Gerichts zulässig (§ 90 Abs. 2 BVerfGG).

IV. Vertretung

Der Beschwerdeführer kann die Verfassungsbeschwerde selbst erheben. Will er sich vertreten lassen, dann kann dies grundsätzlich nur durch einen Rechtsanwalt oder durch einen Rechtslehrer an einer staatlichen oder staatlich anerkannten Hochschule eines Mitgliedstaates der Europäischen Union, eines anderen Vertragsstaates des Abkommens über den Europäischen Wirtschaftsraum oder der Schweiz, der die Befähigung zum Richteramt besitzt, geschehen (§ 22 Abs. 1 Satz 1 BVerfGG). Eine andere Person lässt das Bundesverfassungsgericht als Beistand nur dann zu, wenn es dies ausnahmsweise für sachdienlich hält (§ 22 Abs. 1 Satz 4 BVerfGG). Die Vollmacht ist schriftlich zu erteilen und muss sich ausdrücklich auf das Verfahren vor dem Bundesverfassungsgericht beziehen (§ 22 Abs. 2 BVerfGG).

V. Annahmeverfahren

Die Verfassungsbeschwerde bedarf der Annahme zur Entscheidung (§ 93a Abs. 1 BVerfGG). Sie ist zur Entscheidung anzunehmen,

a) soweit ihr grundsätzliche verfassungsrechtliche Bedeutung zukommt,

b) wenn es zur Durchsetzung der in § 90 Abs. 1 BVerfGG genannten Rechte angezeigt ist; dies kann auch der Fall sein, wenn dem Beschwerdeführer durch die Versagung der Entscheidung zur Sache ein besonders schwerer Nachteil entsteht (§ 93a Abs. 2 BVerfGG).

Eine Verfassungsbeschwerde hat regelmäßig keine grundsätzliche verfassungsrechtliche Bedeutung, wenn die von ihr aufgeworfenen verfassungsrechtlichen Fragen in der Rechtsprechung des Bundesverfassungsgerichts bereits geklärt sind.

Zur Durchsetzung der Grundrechte kann die Annahme der Verfassungsbeschwerde – beispielsweise – angezeigt sein, wenn einer grundrechtswidrigen allgemeinen Praxis von Behörden und Gerichten entgegengewirkt werden soll oder wenn ein Verfassungsverstoß für den Beschwerdeführer besonders schwerwiegend ist.

Die Ablehnung der Annahme der Verfassungsbeschwerde kann durch einstimmigen Beschluss der aus drei Richtern bestehenden Kammer erfolgen. Der Beschluss bedarf keiner Begründung und ist nicht anfechtbar (§ 93d Abs. 1 BVerfGG).

VI. Gerichtskosten

Das Verfahren vor dem Bundesverfassungsgericht ist kostenfrei. Das Bundesverfassungsgericht kann jedoch dem Beschwerdeführer eine Gebühr bis zu 2.600 Euro auferlegen, wenn die Einlegung der Verfassungsbeschwerde einen Missbrauch darstellt (§ 34 Abs. 2 BVerfGG).

VII. Rücknahme von Anträgen

Bis zur Entscheidung des Bundesverfassungsgerichts ist grundsätzlich die Rücknahme einer Verfassungsbeschwerde insgesamt oder einzelner Rügen sowie die Rücknahme eines Antrags auf Erlass einer einstweiligen Anordnung jederzeit möglich. Eine Gebühr (vgl. VI) wird in diesem Fall nicht erhoben.

VIII. Allgemeines Register (AR)

Eingaben, mit denen der Absender weder einen bestimmten Antrag verfolgt noch ein Anliegen geltend macht, für das eine Zuständigkeit des Bundesverfassungsgerichts besteht, werden im Allgemeinen Register erfasst und als Justizverwaltungsangelegenheit bearbeitet.

Im Allgemeinen Register können auch Verfassungsbeschwerden registriert werden, bei denen eine Annahme zur Entscheidung (§ 93a BVerfGG) nicht in Betracht kommt, weil sie offensichtlich unzulässig sind oder unter Berücksichtigung der Rechtsprechung des Bundesverfassungsgerichts offensichtlich keinen Erfolg haben können (s. oben V.).

Begehrt der Einsender nach Unterrichtung über die Rechtslage eine richterliche Entscheidung, so wird die Verfassungsbeschwerde in das Verfahrensregister übertragen und weiterbehandelt (§ 64 Abs. 2 GOBVerfG).

GG = Grundgesetz für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland in der im Bundesgesetzblatt Teil III, Gliederungsnummer 100-1, veröffentlichten bereinigten Fassung, das zuletzt durch Artikel 1 des Gesetzes vom 23. Dezember 2014 (BGBl I S. 2438) geändert worden ist

BVerfGG = Bundesverfassungsgerichtsgesetz in der Fassung der Bekanntmachung vom 11. August 1993 (BGBl I S. 1473), das zuletzt durch Artikel 1 des Gesetzes vom 29. August 2013 (BGBl I S. 3463) geändert worden ist.

GOBVerfG = Geschäftsordnung des Bundesverfassungsgerichts vom 19. November 2014 (BGBl 2015 I S. 286).

(Stand: März 2015)

There is currently no English version.

Gains for PTAB Supporters and Excuses From PTAB Opponents (the Litigation/Trolling ‘Industry’)

Saturday 7th of October 2017 10:24:01 PM

Aqua Products case a disappointment to PTAB foes

Summary: The latest news updates about the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), its proponents, and Aqua Products v Matal, which patent maximalists are attempting to spin in their favour because they’re not satisfied with the outcome

A COUPLE of days ago we noted that Cisco wholeheartedly supports PTAB, not only in terms of monetary means (for a pro-PTAB group) but also in words. The CCIA published a statement from Cisco. Well, the good news is that a former Cisco executive is now becoming Google’s chief patent personality. As IAM put it a few days ago:

Google has a new head of patents. Michael Lee, who joined the company from Cisco in January, has been appointed to the role following Allen Lo’s exit in August. Lee had been lead counsel for mobile at Google, having previously spent eight years at Cisco in a variety of roles including, most recently, as senior director IP strategy, marketplace and policy.

Lee’s appointment came to light via his LinkedIn profile which gives October 2017 as his start date. It’s not clear who Lee will be reporting into — he didn’t respond to a request for comment — but, according to one source Google, is in the midst of shaking up its IP function: an overall head is due to be appointed with the respective heads of patents, trademarks and copyright all reporting into whoever gets that job.

[...]

Prior to joining Cisco Lee was senior legal director for IP litigation and conflict management at Yahoo! and before that did stints in private practice with Shearman & Sterling and Fish & Neave.

The High Tech Inventors Alliance (HTIA), a pro-PTAB alliance, is supported by both Cisco and Google.

As we noted here just before the weekend, US politicians will probably have a closer look at — and possibly have immunity removed from — Native American tribes that help patent trolls dodge PTAB. This too has been noted by the patent microcosm. Another loophole to be closed soon? To quote Patently-O:

As discussed previously, Tribal Nation Sovereign Immunity is not Constitutionally protected and may be eliminated by particular acts of Congress. Thus, this Bill would seem to be effective to eliminate the ongoing concern regarding tribal immunity assertions. The proposal does lack an effective date and so the only missing element would be whether the Bill would retroactively veto pre-enactment claims of immunity.

Michael Loney, who is based New York and is watching PTAB pretty closely, has just spread some doubts about PTAB. Sites like Managing IP, proponents of patent trolls most of the time, seem to be rather upset that the Federal Circuit doesn’t stop PTAB. Loney wrote about the Aqua Products case and propagated the discreditisation, dubbing it “a wash out”:

The Federal Circuit’s en banc Aqua Products v Matal ruling has been described as “a complete non-event” and “a real mess” that “did little to resolve the big questions” surrounding the PTAB’s treatment of motions to amend. However, it did shift the burden of persuasion to the petitioner, while some believe the Chevron implications of the decision are most interesting

Not too shockingly, shortly after the typical PTAB bashing from IAM (site for patent trolls) came this post about the same case. It was composed by a patent trolls supporter and software patents pusher, Richard Lloyd. He’s one among several of those who try hard to eliminate PTAB by all means possible, in essence lobbying by twisting facts. Here’s an example:

In emails and conversations with a series of IPR specialists this week in the wake of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s (CAFC) decision in Aqua Products v Matal, “this is a mess!” was a common response.

They basically try to discredit the outcome. So did Alden Abbott, who says he is “deputy director of the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and the John, Barbara, and Victoria Rumpel Senior Legal Fellow.”

Yesterday he published this piece entitled “Erosion of Patent Rights Is a Threat to Innovation and American Prosperity” (there is no “Erosion of Patent Rights”, there’s improvement of patent quality and patents are not even a "right").

Watch who/what he leans on:

The Patent and Trademark Office, an agency within the Commerce Department, reviews patent applications and issues patents for inventions that meet patentability criteria.

[...]

As Gene Quinn, a leading patent lawyer, explains, these changes mean that today “there are many other parts of the world that have more expansive views of what can be patented, including Europe, Australia, and even China.”

If you are citing Watchtroll as an authority on patents, then you’re as about as extreme as a politician who promotes Breitbart. The usual "China!" line is there too, conflating trolls with “Innovation and American Prosperity”. And then comes the attack on PTAB, revealing that the author is more interested in trolls and low-quality patents, not “Innovation and American Prosperity”:

Patent experts note that this board has wreaked havoc, striking down the vast majority of patent claims it considers in a way that undermines fundamental due process rights of patent holders.

“Patent experts” just means patent microcosm, i.e. those who make a living from disputes.

Incidentally, speaking of China, Mark Kokes (the man who ruined BlackBerry and made it little more than a patent bully) did the usual deflection. Kokes wants us to focus on China again; the patent aggressors and trolls prefer China because it makes extortion easier, so watch what he was saying:

China gets a special mention – “We have had tremendous success at IT licensing there with the approach we have adopted.” – as does the US, though for less positive reasons: “The legal environment has changed dramatically. If you look at it from an asset perspective at a minimum you’d say that values are suppressed – even for high quality ones.” But overall Kokes is optimistic: “Innovation and having IP-centric economies is the right way to go. They are getting a lot more entrepreneurial in China and in parts of Europe, just as things are declining a little in the US.” But despite some head-winds his philosophy is very simple, he concludes: “If you are creative enough you can build your own markets.”

In other words, for litigation giants the US has become less attractive. Is that actually a bad thing? Well, for serial litigators it certainly is, but what have they ever given to society? PTAB and high patent quality (which IPRs entail) make the US a lot more competitive and productive. Less litigation, more development.

Patent Trolls to Watch Out For: ZiiLabs, VLSI Technology LLC, and AlphaCap Ventures

Saturday 7th of October 2017 09:17:49 PM

Eagles watching the circling vultures

Summary: Roundup of news about patent trolls which actively pursue ‘protection’ money and are already filing lawsuits in the US

IN an effort to keep abreast of broad and potentially complex networks of trolls we habitually document who does what and where (or who for). Many trolls simply act as proxies or satellites for another entity. Some change names. We strive to keep these things documented and sites that are friendly to trolls often drop hints about what goes on (because they try to promote or help the trolls, not expose them). One such site is IAM, which is close to Intellectual Ventures, a Microsoft-connected troll with literally thousands of proxies.

The other day IAM wrote about RPX and ZiiLabs, a trolling proxy of Creative. We mentioned it before, as far back as 5 years, then again last year and earlier this year. We also wrote many articles about Creative. Like other companies that thrived/peaked back in the 1990s and then faltered, their patents approach their expiry date so they try hard to make the most out of these, i.e. litigation.

Singapore continues to yield patent trolls such as Creative — a cause for concern in an otherwise strong economy. Here’s the latest:

Back in July, RPX announced a deal with ZiiLabs – a subsidiary of Singapore’s Creative Technology – which halted US patent infringement litigation against seven defendants, at least some of whom are members of the aggregation service. As part of the agreement, ZiiLabs assigned an unspecified number of patent rights to RPX.

At the time, this blog speculated on just what the bounds of the deal were, and how much room it would leave ZiiLabs to continue to monetise the patent portfolio it acquired as part of a 2002 buyout of chip designer 3DLabs. A new lawsuit filed in the district court in Delaware against Nvidia answers some of those questions. And it seems to suggest that ZiiLabs and parent Creative are set to remain Southeast Asia’s key patent player.

As we pointed out earlier this year, Creative is now targeting Android OEMs. It’s a real menace. Creative barely sells anything anymore and its patents have become nothing but a burden/yoke on society.

There’s another IAM blog post, this one about VLSI Technology LLC (which, as the name suggests, is likely just a troll). Fortress was mentioned here at the end of last month and it seems to be behind this troll. To quote:

Earlier this week a patent infringement lawsuit was filed against Intel in district court in Northern California by a company called VLSI Technology LLC. The chip giant stands accused of infringing eight VLSI patents which relate to semiconductor and microprocessor technology and all of which originated with NXP Semiconductors or Freescale Semiconductor (which was bought by NXP in 2015).

According to the court filing VLSI owns a portfolio of 160 US and foreign patents which cover “a wide variety of technologies, including integrated circuit technology”. It appears to take its name from a Silicon Valley business that was set up in the early 1980s and was ultimately acquired by Philips in 1999. A check of the USPTO assignment database shows that the company acquired the patents in a series of transactions dating back to August 2016.

So producing companies like Freescale or NXP end up looking like a Qualcomm and nothing good will come out of it. It’s just a bunch of trolls looking for a quick buck.

The EFF, in the meantime, ousts a new case study about Alice and patent trolls. The death of software patents is nowadays celebrated by the EFF and here they reveal another troll which relies on these. “Generic patents for “crowdfunding” invalidated,” it wrote, “and a startup saved, thanks to Alice v. CLS Bank.”

It turns out that this troll went after just about everyone conceivable:

David S. Rose is a serial entrepreneur turned angel investor. He’s the founder and CEO of Gust, a company that connects startups with investors around the world. David has been in crowdfunding circles for as long as crowdfunding has existed, so imagine his surprise when a company claiming to own patents on crowdfunding demanded payment from Gust in order to keep doing business.

“It was ridiculous,” David says. “They were trying to claim a patent on the concept of online equity funding.” AlphaCap Ventures’ suite of patents—Nos. 7,848,976, 7,908,208, and 8,433,630—cover routine ideas like a website having profile pages for each of its users, applied to the worlds of venture capital and crowdfunding. “They sued the ten leading players in the industry,” David says. “AngelList, Kickstarter, all of them.” AlphaCap sued in the notoriously patent-owner-friendly Eastern District of Texas, despite the fact that AlphaCap was based in California and Gust in New York. As is often the case with patent trolls, AlphaCap appeared most interested in getting defendants to settle as quickly as possible.

Up until now AlphaCap has managed to maintain a relatively low profile although we mentioned it at the start of the year after it had lost in the Eastern District of Texas.

Links 6/10/2017: Systemd 235, Cockpit 152, More Kirigami

Friday 6th of October 2017 09:51:41 PM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • Amdocs launches open source-based software and services portfolio for carriers

    Amdocs has announced Amdocs Network Function Virtualization (NFV) powered by Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) – a portfolio featuring modular capabilities that accelerate service design, virtualization and operating capabilities on demand.

    As the communications and media industry moves from static appliance-based networks to software based, elastic networks, carriers will be increasingly capable of providing services and capacity on demand or based on predictive traffic patterns.

    Instead of building networks for high peak periods, carriers want to spin them up dynamically to provide better network services in the right locations at lower price points. Service providers using technologies developed in ONAP and its ecosystem of capabilities can provide enterprises the ability to design their own networks as part of a richer set of service features.

  • Tevora Releases Free, Open-Source Penetration Testing Tool, SecSmash

    SecSmash is available free of charge on GitHub. Its modular framework allows for integration with any available technology solutions.

  • Open source gaining momentum in Singapore

    If you live in Singapore and have started using the newly-minted parking.sg app developed by the government to pay for street parking at public car parks, you may have noticed something in fine print in one corner of the app’s menu that says “built with open source software”.

  • Open Source Health IT App Development Cuts Back Costs

    Cloud Foundry Applications Runtime is an open source application development platform for cloud-native application. The platform is used and modified constantly to help organizations quickly gain access to the latest development technology.

    The tool has been a part of the Cloud Foundry Foundation for three years. It was originally created at VMware in 2010 and then moved to Pivotal in 2013 before it was donated to Cloud Foundry.

  • Large-Scale Governance – 10 Apache Lessons

    Even if one of these applies, you still might be smarter to join an existing “umbrella” like Software Freedom Conservancy in the US or Public Software in the UK. But if you do end up devising your own organization, you won’t go far wrong my starting with the Apache Software Foundation’s principles.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Mozilla extends, and ends, Firefox support for Windows XP and Vista

        Mozilla has announced it will end support for its Firefox browser on Windows XP and Windows Vista.

        The organisation offers Firefox Extended Support Releases (ESRs) that keep getting bug fixes for 54 weeks, even though nine new versions of Firefox should come along during that time. Mozilla offers ESR releases so that organisations with standard desktop environments can pick a version of Firefox and run it for a year, without the need to update their gold images.

        Enterprise software vendors also like this arrangement: Oracle only certifies its wares for ESRs because keeping up with a six-weekly release cycle is too much effort.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • Who Won at OpenWorld? Oracle, or Amazon and Splunk?

      As this year’s Oracle OpenWorld 2017 draws to a close, I’m convinced that the best seat in the house to watch this one wasn’t anywhere near San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center, the event’s venue, but sitting in front of a computer in your home or office.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • How a university’s 3D-printed prosthetics club provides devices for amputees

        Last fall, one of the co-founders of Duke University eNable published an article describing our club’s beginnings and visions for the future. In the spring of 2016, we started out as six engineering students with a passion for innovation and design, supported by a small stipend from the Innovation Co-Lab and a grant from OSPRI (Open Source Pedagogy, Research and Innovation), a project supported by Red Hat.

        Since then we have established ourselves as a presence on campus, grown into a large interdisciplinary team, and connected with multiple recipients—including a young boy in Milot, Haiti. The resources offered through Duke and the sponsorship we’ve received allow us to continuously transform our ideas into things we can share with open source enthusiasts, makers, and dreamers alike.

  • Programming/Development
    • Double Your Development Velocity without Growing Your Team

      The Developer Experience team at SendGrid is a small, but mighty force of two. We attempt to tackle every problem that we can get our hands on. This often means that some items get left behind. At the outset, we surveyed everything that was going on in our open source libraries and we quickly realized that we needed to find a way to prioritize what we were going to work on. Luckily, our team lives, organizationally, on the Product Management team, and we had just received a gentle nudge and training on the RICE prioritization framework.

      On our company blog, I wrote an article about how employing this framework, using a spreadsheet, helped us double our velocity as a team within the first sprint. Our development velocity doubled because the most impactful things for the time spent are not always the biggest things, but the biggest things tend to attract the most attention due to their size.

    • Review by many eyes does not always prevent buggy code

      Writing code is hard. Writing secure code is harder—much harder. And before you get there, you need to think about design and architecture. When you’re writing code to implement security functionality, it’s often based on architectures and designs that have been pored over and examined in detail. They may even reflect standards that have gone through worldwide review processes and are generally considered perfect and unbreakable.*

      However good those designs and architectures are, though, there’s something about putting things into actual software that’s, well, special. With the exception of software proven to be mathematically correct,** being able to write software that accurately implements the functionality you’re trying to realize is somewhere between a science and an art. This is no surprise to anyone who’s actually written any software, tried to debug software, or divine software’s correctness by stepping through it; however, it’s not the key point of this article.

    • Java Moving Forward With Faster Pace Release Schedule, Modular System
    • Onwards to Valhalla: Java ain’t dead yet and it’s only getting bigger

      Scale was big at the JavaOne conference this week. Spotify lauded its success scaling with Java, and Oracle execs practically squealed as they reeled off adoption statistics. Big Red believes the next ten years belong to Java.

      “We want the next decade to be Java first, Java always,” vice president Mark Cavage said on stage.

      Of course Java is already big and among those on stage was Alibaba, one of the world’s largest Java users, which talked up its ability to run more than a million JVM instances at once.

Leftovers
  • Why the Internet is worried that Microsoft’s consumer services are doomed

    Today, Microsoft sells more to businesses and enterprises than it does to consumers. The emphasis today is on subscriptions and abstract services, rather than on shrinkwrapped products it can put on store shelves.

  • A Pre-History of Slashdot

    I registered the domain name ‘Slashdot.org’ 20 years ago today. I really had no idea.

  • 20 Years of Stuff That Matters

    Today we’re marking Slashdot’s 20th birthday.

  • The U.S. Senate just took the next step to creating a national standard for testing and deploying self-driving cars

    The Senate Commerce Committee just took the next step in creating what could be the new national standard for the testing and deployment of self-driving cars. The committee unanimously agreed to send its bill, called AV Start, to the Senate floor on Wednesday.

    The bipartisan bill would establish nation-wide regulations for how companies like Uber, Tesla, Lyft, GM and others safely and legally test and then roll out their self-driving cars on public roads.

  • Science
    • Algorithm designer among those honored with the Chemistry Nobel

      The highest possible resolution we can get in a typical image is limited by the wavelength of the light we’re using. Although there are some clever ways around this limit, one alternative has been to use something with a smaller wavelength. That “something” turns out to be electrons, and the electron microscope has provided a glimpse of the details inside cells, showing us how their parts are ordered and structured.

      But this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry went to a group of individuals who pushed the electron microscope to its very limit, figuring out how to use it to determine the position of every single atom in large, complex molecules. The award goes partly to a researcher who successfully used electron microscopes to image proteins. But it also goes to two people who developed some of the techniques to make the whole thing work: figuring out how to freeze water quickly enough that it formed a glass and developing an algorithm that could take a large collection of random data and convert it into a coherent picture.

    • ‘Our minds can be hijacked’: the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia

      Google, Twitter and Facebook workers who helped make technology so addictive are disconnecting themselves from the internet. Paul Lewis reports on the Silicon Valley refuseniks who worry the race for human attention has created a world of perpetual distraction that could ultimately end in disaster

    • Do smartphone alerts make you angry? There may actually be a scientific reason for that

      According to a paper published by a team of academics from Nottingham Trent University, digital alerts from smartphones and tablets can have a direct and immediate effect on mood.

    • Growing social media backlash among young people, survey shows

      Almost two-thirds of pupils say they would not care if the technology did not exist and talk of negative impact on wellbeing

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Trump Guts Requirement That Employer Health Plans Pay For Birth Control

      The Trump administration is rolling back the Obama-era requirement that employer-provided health insurance policies cover birth control methods at no cost to women.

      According to senior officials with the Department of Health and Human Services, the goal of the new rule is to allow any company or nonprofit group to exclude the coverage for contraception if it has a religious or moral objection.

      “This provides an exemption, and it’s a limited one,” said Roger Severino, director of the HHS Office of Civil Rights. “We should have space for organizations to live out their religious identity and not face discrimination.”

  • Security
    • Security updates for Friday
    • Apple fixes Keychain vulnerability, but only in macOS High Sierra

      The zero-day vulnerability in macOS’s Keychain has been addressed by Apple, along with some other issues in High Sierra. But other recent versions of the operating system are still vulnerable.

    • macOS High Sierra bug exposes APFS passwords in plain text

      A Brazilian software developer has uncovered a bug in Apple’s macOS High Sierra software that exposes the passwords of encrypted Apple File System (APFS) volumes in plain text.

    • The September 2017 WordPress Attack Report

      This edition of the WordPress Attack Report is a continuation of the monthly series we’ve been publishing since December 2016. Reports from the previous months can be found here.

      This report contains the top 25 attacking IPs for September 2017 and their details. It also includes charts of brute force and complex attack activity for the same period, along with a new section revealing changes to the Wordfence real-time IP blacklist throughout the month. We also include the top themes and plugins that were attacked and which countries generated the most attacks for this period.

    • Step aside, Windows! Open source and Linux are IT’s new security headache [Ed: Microsoft propagandist Preston Gralla is back from the woods. The typical spin, lies. Deflection. Windows has back doors.]
    • Sex Toys Are Just As Poorly-Secured As The Rest Of The Internet of Broken Things

      At this point we’ve pretty well documented how the “internet of things” is a privacy and security dumpster fire. Whether it’s tea kettles that expose your WiFi credentials or smart fridges that leak your Gmail password, companies were so busy trying to make a buck by embedding network chipsets into everything, they couldn’t be bothered to adhere to even the most modest security and privacy guidelines. As a result, billions upon billions of devices are now being connected to the internet with little to no meaningful security and a total disregard to user privacy — posing a potentially fatal threat to us all.

  • Defence/Aggression
  • Finance
    • This ICO for an AI blockchain is the most tech-hype idea of the year
    • ‘Kleptocracy Tour’ Spotlights Nigerian Corrupt Money Funneled Through Britain

      Anti-corruption activists hoping to shine a light on the hundreds of millions of dollars funneled through London every year are organizing tours of properties allegedly bought with dishonest money.

    • Amazon Is Testing Its Own Delivery Service to Rival FedEx and UPS

      The service began two years ago in India, and Amazon has been slowly marketing it to U.S. merchants in preparation for a national expansion, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the U.S. pilot project is confidential. Amazon is calling the project Seller Flex, one person said. The service began on a trial basis this year in West Coast states with a broader rollout planned in 2018, the people said. Amazon declined to comment.

    • Average Fortune 500 CEO gets a pension of $253,088 every month until they die

      The average American worker has $95,000 in their 401(k), which will not even allow them to starve with dignity; this is a sharp contrast from earlier generations of American workers, whose employers provided defined-benefits pensions — but it also is quite a distance from the CEOs of the biggest US companies, whose average pension benefit is $253,088/month.

    • Average CEO has to make do with $253,088 in monthly pension payments

      Wiseman said it’s not much of a stretch to call this “collusion.”

    • Goldman Sachs is one step closer to making Frankfurt its new European home post-Brexit

      Goldman Sachs is pushing ahead with making Frankfurt, Germany, its key European base. This week, the Wall Street giant agreed to lease multiple floors for offices in a 38-storey building, as part of its Brexit contingency plans.

      The Marienturm tower is located in the heart of Frankfurt’s business district and Goldman is looking to take around the top eight floors, which is said to accommodate around 1,000 workers. “This expanded office space will allow us to grow our operations in Germany to serve our clients, as well as provide us with the space to execute on our Brexit contingency plan as needed,” said a Goldman Sachs spokesman to Bloomberg. Quartz also contacted Goldman for comment.

    • Brexit deadlock looms as European negotiators say they have lost faith in May

      Britain will refuse to tell Europe how much it is prepared to pay to settle the so-called “Brexit bill” when Brexit negotiations re-open in Brussels next week, the Telegraph can reveal, in a move that risks plunging the Brexit talks into fresh crisis.

      The British move comes as doubts emerged across Europe that Theresa May has the political clout to seal a Brexit deal following her disastrous party conference speech and public disagreements with Boris Johnson.

      Senior Whitehall sources said that negotiators will refuse to say which financial “commitments” Britain will honour, setting up a fresh showdown with Brussels.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Someone hacked [sic] the White House chief of staff’s personal phone

      Notably, the compromised phone was Kelly’s personal device, rather than the secure phone issued by the government. The White House told Politico that Kelly rarely used the device since joining the administration, although even occasional use could have exposed sensitive government information to attackers.

    • John Kelly’s personal cellphone was compromised, White House believes

      White House tech support discovered the suspected breach after Kelly turned his phone in to tech support staff this summer.

    • John Kelly’s phone was breached as early as December: report
    • Donald Trump’s passion for cruelty

      He revels in a public discourse that threatens, humiliates and bullies.

      He has used language as a weapon to humiliate women, a reporter with a disability, Pope Francis and any political opponent who criticizes him. He has publicly humiliated members of his own cabinet and party, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions and a terminally ill John McCain, not to mention the insults and lies he perpetrated against former FBI Director James Comey after firing him.

      Trump has humiliated world leaders with insulting and belittling language. He not only insulted North Korean leader Kim Jong-un with the war-like moniker “Rocket Man,” he appeared before the United Nations and blithely threatened to address the nuclear standoff with North Korea by wiping out its 25 million inhabitants.

    • Suspending the Catalan Parliament, Spain Destroys the EU’s “Rule of Law” Figleaf.

      It takes a very special kind of chutzpah systematically to assault voters, and drag them from polling booths by their hair, and then say that a low turnout invalidates the vote. That is the shameless position being taken by the Europe wide political Establishment and its corporate media lackeys. This Guardian article illustrates a refinement to this already extreme act of intellectual dishonesty. It states voter turnout was 43%. That ignores the 770,000 votes which were cast but physically confiscated by the police so they could not be counted. They take voter turnout over 50%.

      That is an incredibly high turnout, given that 900 voters were brutalised so badly they needed formal medical treatment. The prospect of being smashed in the face by a club would naturally deter a number of people from voting. The physical closure of polling stations obviously stopped others from voting. It is quite incredible that in these circumstances, over 50% of the electorate did succeed in casting a vote.

    • Lobbyists Tied to Trump Cash In on Their Connections

      The day after the presidential election, the Washington lobbying firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck touted its Republican team’s “significant relationships … with those who will steer the incoming Trump administration.” It highlighted Marc Lampkin, managing partner of its Washington office and a Trump fundraiser.

      Such efforts are among the ways lobbyists advertise their connections and ability to influence. One posted a pre-inauguration photo with the president on his firm’s website; another maintained a former campaign title on Facebook; others made sure to stress the backgrounds of their connected staff members online or in press releases.

      Despite Donald Trump’s campaign vow to “drain the swamp” of lobbyists and special interests, Washington’s influence industry is alive and well — and growing. Former members of the Trump transition team, presidential campaign and administration, as well as friends have set up shop as lobbyists and cashed in on connections, according to a new report compiled by Public Citizen, a public interest group, and reviewed by The Associated Press.

      Records through Aug. 31 showed at least 44 registered federal lobbyists with ties to Trump or Vice President Mike Pence. These firms have collectively billed nearly $41.8 million to clients — seven of the 10 most lucrative being foreign interests, according to the analysis of federal lobbying disclosure filings.

    • Catalan parliament to defy Spanish ban on independence debate, official says

      Catalonia’s parliament will defy a Spanish court ban and go ahead on Monday with a debate that could lead to a declaration of independence, a regional government official said, as Spain’s worst political crisis in decades looked set to deepen.

      “Parliament will discuss, parliament will meet. It will be a debate, and this is important,” the Catalan government’s head of foreign affairs, Raul Romeva, told BBC radio on Friday.

      It was the pro-independence regional government’s first clear response to a Constitutional Court decision on Thursday to suspend Monday’s planned parliamentary session, and it raised the prospect of a tough response from the central government.

    • Here’s How Breitbart And Milo Smuggled Nazi and White Nationalist Ideas Into The Mainstream

      In August, after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville ended in murder, Steve Bannon insisted that “there’s no room in American society” for neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates, and the KKK.

      But an explosive cache of documents obtained by BuzzFeed News proves that there was plenty of room for those voices on his website.

      During the 2016 presidential campaign, under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart courted the alt-right — the insurgent, racist right-wing movement that helped sweep Donald Trump to power. The former White House chief strategist famously remarked that he wanted Breitbart to be “the platform for the alt-right.”

    • The Rising of Britain’s ‘New Politics’

      Delegates to the recent Labour Party conference in the English seaside town of Brighton seemed not to notice a video playing in the main entrance. The world’s third biggest arms manufacturer, BAe Systems, supplier to Saudi Arabia, was promoting its guns, bombs, missiles, naval ships and fighter aircraft.

      It seemed a perfidious symbol of a party in which millions of Britons now invest their political hopes. Once the preserve of Tony Blair, it is now led by Jeremy Corbyn, whose career has been very different and is rare in British establishment politics.

      Addressing the conference, the campaigner Naomi Klein described the rise of Corbyn as “part of a global phenomenon. We saw it in Bernie Sanders’ historic campaign in the US primaries, powered by millennials who know that safe centrist politics offers them no kind of safe future.”

    • EU Official Warns War a Possibility in Catalonia

      The team captain of Spain’s storied football club Barcelona, which has become a focal point of secessionist Catalan sentiment, is urging politicians in Madrid and the Catalan capital to start negotiating about the future of Spain’s restive northeast province.

      “Before we do ourselves more damage, those in charge must open dialogue with each other. Do it for all of us. We deserve to live in peace,” Andrés Iniesta wrote on his Facebook page, apologizing at the same time for weighing in on “situations that are complex.”

      His appeal came as a top EU official Thursday warned that the separatist dispute, exacerbated by Catalan secessionists holding an illegal independence referendum Sunday, risks escalating into armed conflict.

    • Report: Facebook removed references to Russia from fake-news report

      Back in April, Facebook published a report called “Information Operations and Facebook” that detailed the company’s efforts to combat fake news and other misinformation campaigns on the site. The report was released in the midst of an uproar over potential Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign. But the report doesn’t mention Russia by name, saying only that Facebook’s data “does not contradict” a January report by the Obama administration detailing Russian meddling in the election.

      On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the decision not to mention Russia was hotly debated inside Facebook. An earlier draft of the report discussed what Facebook knew at that time about Russian meddling, but that material was ultimately removed from the report before publication.

    • Obama, in Brazil, Offers Familiar Slogan to Corporate Audience
  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • The Latest On Shiva Ayyadurai’s Failed Libel Suit Against Techdirt

      We have a quick update today on the defamation lawsuit that Shiva Ayyadurai filed against us earlier this year. Last month, Judge Dennis Saylor dismissed the lawsuit, pointing out that everything we said concerning Ayyadurai’s claim to have invented email (specifically us presenting lots and lots of evidence of email predating Shiva’s own work) was clearly protected speech under the First Amendment. Unfortunately, despite us being a California corporation, Judge Saylor did not grant our separate motion to strike under California’s anti-SLAPP law — which would have required Ayyadurai to pay our legal fees.

    • Harvey Weinstein to Sue N.Y. Times, Says His Attorney

      On the heels of The New York Times’ bombshell exposé published Thursday about “decades of harassment” on the part of Harvey Weinstein, the mogul’s attorney Charles Harder says he’s preparing a lawsuit against the paper.

      “The New York Times published today a story that is saturated with false and defamatory statements about Harvey Weinstein,” he writes in an email to The Hollywood Reporter. “It relies on mostly hearsay accounts and a faulty report, apparently stolen from an employee personnel file, which has been debunked by nine different eyewitnesses. We sent the Times the facts and evidence, but they ignored it and rushed to publish. We are preparing the lawsuit now. All proceeds will be donated to women’s organizations.”

      Harder is perhaps most famous as the lawyer who represented Hulk Hogan in the litigation that brought down Gawker. He also represented Melania Trump in a defamation action against the parent company of The Daily Mail. That case settled earlier this year. Harder also sent a cease-and-desist letter last year on behalf of Roger Ailes to New York Magazine, and in his career, he has represented many popular stars in entertainment including Reese Witherspoon and Sandra Bullock.

    • Decades of Sexual Harassment Accusations Against Harvey Weinstein
    • Censorship Board warns ‘nude’ performers

      Responding to University of Zimbabwe lecturer, Ruby Magosvongwe’s concerns over the suitability of “semi-naked” Brazilian Samba girls performing at the Harare International Carnival, Chigwedere told a stakeholders meeting that his board would take corrective measures.

    • Dirty Chinese Restaurant mobile game canceled after racism criticism

      Developer Big-O-Tree games has halted development and promotion of a planned mobile game called Dirty Chinese Restaurant after the title drew negative attention from sources including a US Congresswoman for racist portrayals of Asian-Americans.

    • Return of the algorithm monster: YouTube auto-promoted conspiracy theory videos
    • Netizen Report: LGBTQ People Face Online Censorship and Threats in Egypt

      Egypt’s broadcast regulator, the Supreme Council for Media Regulation, has banned all forms of support to the LGBTQ community, allegedly to “maintain public order.” The move came after a rainbow flag was raised at a concert of the Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila in Cairo on Sept. 11. The band supports LGBTQ rights, and its lead singer, Hamed Sinno, is openly gay.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • That Flag-Burning NFL Photo Isn’t Fake News. It’s a Meme

      The photo was fake, but that didn’t seem to matter; within a day, it had racked up more than 10,000 shares, likes, and comments from furious people all over the country.

    • Trump Urges Supreme Court To Throw Out Prior Muslim Ban Rulings

      With a third version of the Muslim ban set to go into effect on October 18, President Donald Trump’s administration has asked the Supreme Court to vacate lower court rulings on previous versions of the ban.

      If allowed to stand, the lower courts’ decisions threaten to undermine the executive’s ability to deal with sensitive foreign policy issues in strategically important regions of the world,” Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco writes in a letter to Scott S. Harris, the clerk of the Supreme Court.

      Francisco adds, “The court should not permit that unnecessary consequence, especially when the rulings below are preliminary injunctions litigated on a highly expedited basis.”

      The letter celebrates supposed “time limits” on entry and refugee suspensions as features that were not part of any attempts to “evade judicial review.” They were “temporary measures to facilitate the government’s inter-agency review processes and to protect national security in the interim.”

    • Hundreds Of Cases Dismissed Thanks To Baltimore PD Misconduct

      After years of listening to tough-on-crime legislators and the tough-on-crime lawmen that love to hear them talk about filthy criminals beating the system by getting off on technicalities, it’s somewhat funny to discover lots of what’s complained about is nothing more than good old-fashioned due process and/or the collateral damage of crooked, inept, or lazy cops.

      We’ve seen a lot of en masse criminal case dismissals recently. Thousands of convictions and charges were dropped in Massachusetts as the result of a state crime lab tech’s years of faked drug tests. All over the nation, cops are letting perps walk rather than discuss law enforcement’s worst-kept secret: Stingray devices.

    • Baltimore prosecutor says more than 850 cases impacted by questionable police conduct
    • Miami Beach cops arrest man for Twitter parody of police spokesman

      A Miami Beach man is facing criminal charges after he created a parody account purporting to be Ernesto Rodriguez, a spokesman for the Miami Beach Police Department. The defendant, Ernesto Orsetti, is charged with impersonating a law enforcement officer, a third-degree felony, according to a press release posted by the Miami New Times.

      “Defendant falsely created and assumed the identity of the victim (active police officer/police information officer) via Twitter,” the police report says. “The Twitter account, @ernierodmb, had a marked Miami Beach police vehicle and a photo of the victim in uniform.”

    • John Kiriakou, CIA Officer in Torture Leak Case, Injured in Serious Traffic Accident

      John Kiriakou, a prominent ex-CIA officer, and among the first to reveal the agency’s torture program, was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident earlier this week in Washington, D.C., according to one of his attorneys.

      Kiriakou suffered broken ribs, a fractured clavicle and lumbar spine damage, according to Jesselyn Radack, one of the attorneys who represented him when he was charged in 2012 with leaking classified information about CIA waterboarding of an Al-Qaeda suspect at a secret site in Thailand. He eventually pleaded guilty to one count of leaking the identity of a fellow CIA officer to a reporter and was sentenced to 30 months in prison.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Anybody Claiming Net Neutrality Rules Killed Broadband Investment Is Lying To You

      In 2015 the FCC passed some fairly basic net neutrality rules designed to keep broadband duopolies from abusing a lack of broadband competition to hamstring internet competitors. Despite the endless pearl clutching from ISP lobbyists and allies, the rules were relatively modest, falling well short of the more comprehensive rules we’ve seen passed in places like Canada, Japan, and India. Still, ISPs have spent every day since trying to claim that the rules somehow utterly devastated broadband sector investment, despite the fact that independent economists and journalists have repeatedly proven that to be a lie.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Members Of Congress: Court Was Wrong To Say That Posting The Law Is Copyright Infringement

        Back in February, we wrote about a disturbing court decision that said that standards that are “incorporated by reference” into law, could still be copyright infringing if posted to the internet. In that earlier post I go into much more background, but the short version is this: lots of laws point to standards put together by private standards bodies, and say, effectively, “to be legal, you must meet this standard.” For example, fire codes may be required to meet certain standards put together by a private standards body. Carl Malamud has spent years trying to make the law more accessible, and he started posting such standards that are “incorporated by reference” into the law publicly. His reasoning: once the government incorporates the standard into the law, the standard must be publicly available. Otherwise, you have a ridiculous situation in which you can’t even know what the law is that governs you unless you pay (often a lot) to access it.

        Standards bodies weren’t happy about this — as some of them make a large chunk of money from selling access to the standards. But from a straight up “the law should be public” standpoint, the answer should be “too bad.” Unfortunately, the district court didn’t see it that way, and basically said it’s okay to have parts of our laws blocked by copyright. We thought that ruling had some serious problems, and Malamud and his organization Public.Resource.Org appealed. A bunch of amicus briefs have been filed in the case — which you can see at EFF’s case page on the lawsuit. There’s a good one from some law professors about how the lower court got it wrong, as well as a ton of library associations (and also other law professors and former gov’t officials). Public Citizen also filed a good brief on the importance of having access to the law. It’s worth reading them all.

      • Iran Cracks Down On Movie Pirates In The Most Inception-Esque Manner Possible

        For those of us that pay attention to copyright matters throughout the world, a story out of Iran has had us riding a strange sort of roller coaster. Late in September, the Iranian government arrested six people it says run the movie-streaming site TinyMoviez. That site is like many others on the web, focusing on the streaming of Hollywood movies in a manner that is pretty clear-cut piracy. Iran does have copyright laws on the books, which include punishments for “anyone who publishes, distributes or broadcasts another person’s work without permission,” ranging from imprisonment for a few months to three years for violating that law. There are, however, no agreements on copyright between American and Iran, for obvious reasons, so the application of Iranian copyright law tends to be focused on Iranian content. Many were left scratching their heads wondering why the arrest had been made.

Design Patents Should Not Exist, Trademarks and Copyrights Already Cover Designs

Friday 6th of October 2017 08:57:48 AM

Zach Snyder is listed as an “Inventor” of this:

Summary: The absurdity of broad patents on design ideas which are about as ludicrous as patents on paintings or sketch arts

WE have, for a long time, said that patents on designs should not exist. Trademark law already covers designs, sometimes copyright law covers these too.

This new book title irked us a little. Patently-O promoted it yesterday. The book’s name, “Design Rights”, is misleading. These are not “rights” per se. We often see words like assets, property, rights, protection etc. misused. Patently-O misuses these words too.

“The book walks through design protection available the various global regions,” Patently-O wrote, “US, Europe, Japan, China, India, S.America, etc – and is designed to help practitioners both understand the law and get started on strategy.”

It talks about “practitioners”, i.e. those who make a living not from designs but from telling designers that they need patents.

Design patents too often (more often than not) look like satirical ones. Patently-O gave this example the other day and even Crouch made fun/poked at it. To quote: [via]

Don’t stare too deeply into the pattern above – it embodies Columbia Sportswear’s U.S. Design Patent No. D657093 – covering “the ornamental design of a heat reflective material, as shown and described.” The recent $3 million jury verdict in Columbia Sportsware v. Seirus Innovative Accessories appears to be the first post-Samsung verdict on design patent damages.

Look at it. Ridiculous! How can that be monopolised? It’s almost outrageous.

The Samsung verdict Crouch alludes to is the Apple case, which revolves around a ridiculous design patent dispute. There’s an update on the case in this post from Florian Müller:

Just this week, the Wall Street Journal reported on the high-volume business Apple is doing with Samsung, a key supplier of components for various products including the new flagship iPhone, the iPhone X, on which Samsung will reportedly make $110 per unit. But as device makers, the two remain fierce competitors–and adversaries in court.

And on the design patents:

In the famous design patents case, the DoJ agreed with Samsung on the key legal question (article of manufacture). It additionally brought up a procedural question that could have enabled Apple to defend the original damages award. Now, with respect to the more recent petition relating to invalidity, injunctive relief, and infringement, the DoJ cautiously distances itself from the en banc opinion and indicates only between the lines that it may disagree, to some extent, from a policy perspective (“rigid rules for demonstrating obviousness” etc.). It would have been nice if the DoJ had been clearer about the implications of this for U.S. tech companies and for the work of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which is supposed to protect real technological progress, which is hard to do if even weak evidence of non-obviousness gets a lot of weight. The DoJ could have expressed more clearly a concern over what this means for patent quality, but unfortunately it didn’t.

Those who have actually seen some design patents (not registered designs) will know that it’s a bubble of bad patents. Patently-O recently showed the explosive growth of such patents at the USPTO.

What next for patent maximalists? The crooked EPO has already begun granting patents on life itself, rendering EPs a laughing stock.

China May be the World’s Last ‘Safe Haven’ of Software Patents

Friday 6th of October 2017 08:07:03 AM

The Eastern District of Texas has gone East

Summary: China’s tolerance of software patents is now the exception rather than the norm and the net effect is patent trolls flocking to China, just like they did in the Eastern District of Texas

THREE days ago we mentioned Quiptel and its bad strategy. To quote this new article: “Quiptel’s technology and software patents will aim to drive the company’s primary business focus” (even though software patents are toothless where it is).

We try hard to think of anywhere in the world where software patents still have legitimacy. Australia recently moved away from these, Japan is getting stricter, and the US has changed a lot since Alice. Last night Forbes published “Why It’s So Hard To Patent Computer Software” (it’s hard to get these patents and it’s even harder to enforce software patents in a court of law right now).

The new reality is, software patents have become a thing of the past (unless one goes to China or merely threatens with them, as trolls do). Nations seem to be coming to grips with the fact that software developers don’t want such patents; it’s a bunch of law firms that pursue such patents.

Now that china is moving towards software patents (while the rest of the world is abolishing software patents) the CCPIT Patent & Trademark Law Office publishes this new article which contains the following section about software.

In April 2017 the revised Guidelines for Patent Examination came into effect and the means for drafting software-related or computer-implemented claims have since become relaxed. According to the revised guidelines, computer-readable media carrying program instructions – which were previously excluded from patent protection – have become patent eligible. In addition, claims seeking to protect an apparatus comprising a memory in which computer-executable instructions are stored and a processor configured to perform actions on execution of the instructions are now acceptable.

We are very gratified to say that our focus may need to shift to China, in order for Chinese authorities to understand just how misguided and unproductive the policy would turn out to be. Already, many patent trolls and patent assertion activities move to China (which is increasingly favourable to the plaintiffs). This may be good for a bunch of law firms, but it’s destructive to China’s productive economy and raises uncertainty for companies operating (or producing) in China. We presume the change in policy was the result of heavy lobbying by the legal ‘industry’ in China.

Battistelli’s Club Med at the EPO – Part VI: “When Corruption Rules” in Portugal – Operation Marquês

Friday 6th of October 2017 07:25:21 AM

Also see: Immunity of the Intellectual Property Office of the European Union Causes Outrage in Spanish Media

Summary: José Sócrates and his luxury lifestyle in Paris, one of many Portuguese scandals which may unfold further action next month

Today we continue our series that explores possible connections between Battistelli’s “validation agreements”, corruption in Angolan & Portuguese political affairs, and the ongoing efforts to parachute in Campinos as the head of the EPO with the assistance of Battistelli’s “Club Med”.

In part 1 and part 2 we focused a little more on the EPO, part 3 and part 4 looked at Angola, and part 5 looked at Portugal and its former colonies, primarily the corruption there. Today we focus on Portugal.

It would be unfair to blame all of Portugal’s current problems with corruption on the baneful influence of the nouveaux riche post-colonial ruling elite of its former colony. Portuguese politicians are no strangers to scandal in their own right and have managed to make headlines in this regard without any outside assistance.

“Portuguese politicians are no strangers to scandal in their own right and have managed to make headlines in this regard without any outside assistance.”As one commentator put it in an article with the headline “Portugal: When corruption rules”: “Cases of corruption emerge constantly, even in the so-called most developed and democratic of countries. Politicians embezzling money is nothing new, and Portugal is no exception. The difference is that in this country, those cases are following one another constantly, and the crisis is only making the situation worse. Irregularities can be found everywhere, even on some politicians’ résumés – as for example the former Portuguese Prime Minister Miguel Relvas, who obtained his degree illegally.”

Relvas, who was actually Deputy Prime Minister and a senior member of Pedro Passos Coelho’s government, resigned in disgrace in 2013 following a controversy about alleged irregularities in the degree he obtained from a private university (Universidade Lusófona).

“Relvas, who was actually Deputy Prime Minister and a senior member of Pedro Passos Coelho’s government, resigned in disgrace in 2013 following a controversy about alleged irregularities in the degree he obtained from a private university (Universidade Lusófona).”The Ministry of Education referred the matter to the Portugal’s Public Attorney’s Office which led to the revocation of Relvas’ degree by court decision in June 2016.

The affair surrounding Relvas’ degree is “peanuts” compared to the revelations emerging from “Operation Marquis” (a.k.a. “Operation Marquês” in Portuguese) which started off with an investigation into allegations of corruption against José Sócrates who was the Prime Minister of Portugal from 12 March 2005 to 21 June 2011.

In November 2014 Sócrates was arrested on suspicions of corruption and money-laundering after his luxury lifestyle abroad had come under investigation. It seems that after he departed from political life in Portugal in 2011, he lived the life of a millionaire in Paris with no visible source of serious income.

“In November 2014 Sócrates was arrested on suspicions of corruption and money-laundering after his luxury lifestyle abroad had come under investigation.”Initial investigations led to the discovery that a close friend was holding millions of euros for his benefit. Sócrates claimed that he merely borrowed from his friend, but there are no records of the amounts loaned. The funds were apparently used to finance his luxury lifestyle in Paris.

The subsequent investigations under “Operation Marquis” have led to the exposure of a whole network of corruption alleged to involve as much as € 22 million meticulously ‘laundered’ through sophisticated cloaking and masking mechanisms using intermediaries and offshore companies to conceal the final recipient (purportedly Sócrates).

Since the arrest of Sócrates in 2014 the list of defendants has grown to include his former wife, Sofia Fava; a former Director of Caixa Geral de Depósitos and former socialist minister, Armando Vara; his daughter Bárbara Vara; Luso-Angolan businessman, Hélder Bataglia, Carlos Santos Silva, the businessman and friend of the former Prime Minister; Joaquim Barroca of the Lena Group; João Perna, Sócrates’ former chauffeur; Paulo Lalanda de Castro from Octapharma; Henrique Granadeiro and Zeinal Bava, former directors of PT, Inês do Rosário who is Carlos Santos Silva’s mother; the lawyer Gonçalo Trindade Ferreira and the businessmen Diogo Gaspar Ferreira and Rui Mão de Ferro.

“The funds were apparently used to finance his luxury lifestyle in Paris.”One of the money trails reportedly led to a safety deposit box in a Swiss bank and this has caused some delay in the investigation as legal assistance had to be requested from the Swiss authorities. According to the latest press reports from Portugal the Attorney General’s Office in Lisbon has set a deadline of 20 November 2017 for the conclusion of the Operation Marquis investigation.

It will be interesting to see what further revelations emerge in this affair when the final indictment against Sócrates and his co-defendants is submitted by the public prosecutor and the proceedings are opened which is expected to happen towards the end of this year.

More in Tux Machines

Today in Techrights

Android Leftovers

GNU/Linux on Desktop/Phone: System76, DeX, Librem

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Servers: DockerCon Coverage, MongoDB IPO

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